Published: 15:50, 01 December 2019
| Updated: 10:16, 02 December 2019
Maidstone’s hopes of reaching the FA Cup third round unravelled in four second-half minutes at Blackpool.
It was all going so well for the National South Stones with Saidou Khan’s magnificent opener giving them a half-time lead.
But the Tangerines blew them away after the restart with George Elokobi’s unfortunate own goal followed by a Nathan Delfouneso double.
It was the fourth time in six years Maidstone have reached the second round but a place in round three for the first time since 1988 continues to elude them despite a big effort.
Seventy-two places separated the sides but United were anything but overawed by their promotion-chasing League 1 opponents.
Indeed, the Stones looked the better side in the first half, enjoying decent possession against against a Seasiders outfit who were unchanged from last week’s draw at Ipswich.
Pool struggled to open up John Still’s side, reduced to shots from distance, Sullay Kaikai well wide and Jake Cole making comfortable saves from Matty Virtue and James Husband.
Maidstone were well in the game, despite losing Ibby Akanbi to injury, and took the lead in stunning fashion in the 29th minute with their first shot on goal.
It came courtesy of man-of-the-moment Khan who swivelled 20 yards out and sent a brilliant half-volley over Jak Alnwick.
Blackpool had a few chances towards the end of the half, Kaikai unable to sort out his feet when well-placed from Liam Feeney’s cross before Elokobi and Khan pulled off blocks from Delfouneso and former Liverpool man Jay Spearing.
But Maidstone could have gone 2-0 up in added time when Khan stole possession and burst forward, pushing his strike inches past the far post.
Blackpool levelled in bizarre circumstances in the 47th minute.
Joe Nutall’s cross was cut out by Ryan Johnson but the ball hit Elokobi in the six-yard box and went in.
Maidstone needed to clear their heads but went 2-1 down in the 50th minute when Delfouneso nodded home a cross from the left after slack marking at a throw-in.
And Delfouneso struck again seconds later as Maidstone crumbled, racing through one-on-one and beating Cole after Elokobi was caught in possession.
It was a mad four minutes and one that effectively did for the Stones with Blackpool able to relax and enjoy themselves.
Kaikai brought a good save from Cole, Elokobi and Johnson made last-ditch blocks to deny Nuttall, and Virtue belted over as Pool threatened further goals.
Shortly after, Cole made an excellent low stop from Kaikai and was sharply off his line to thwart Nuttall.
Noah Chesmain put a dangerous ball across the face of goal as Maidstone rallied while debutant Zihni Temelici went close with a deflected strike in the closing stages.
Delfouneso nearly completed his hat-trick in added time.
Maidstone: Cole, Hoyte, Johnson, Elokobi, Chesmain, Marshall, James (Temelici 79mins), Allen (Amaluzor 59mins), Khan, Wishart, Akanbi (McClure 25mins). Subs not used: Lewington, Pennell,Kyei, Embery.
Attendance: 3,977 (420 away).
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More by this authorCraig Tucker
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