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Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders on FA Trophy draw against Gateshead

By Craig Tucker

Jay Saunders will take a ‘horrible’ midweek trip to Gateshead after Maidstone salvaged an FA Trophy third-round replay.

Jai Reason’s 90th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw means the sides meet again at the International Stadium on Tuesday night for a place in the quarter-finals.

United are likely to make the 310-mile trip on the day, a little over a week after travelling up there for a league game, which the Heed won 2-1.

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Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders Picture: Andy Jones

The main thing for Saunders is to be in Monday's draw having trailed so late.

They led through Jamar Loza and were looking good but two goals in 10 minutes from Lewis McNall and Richard Peniket turned the tie on its head before Reason’s late strike.

Saunders felt the atmosphere was flat given Maidstone’s recent struggles but praised his players for sticking with the task.

He said: “It was the most bizarre feeling because we went from 1-0 up and thinking we’re going to go and get a second to all of a sudden being 2-1 down and you think, ‘What is going on?’ but we're still in the hat and we go again Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of pressure on them at the moment. You can see by the atmosphere in here today. It was dead, it was very quiet, other than when we scored our goals.

“I think they know there’s pressure on them because they haven’t been winning games here and we need that break, we need to get that win here and I thought today was going to be it.

“We couldn’t get it but they kept going and that’s the main thing.

"It’s a horrible trip on Tuesday, one we could do without, but if it’s a case of still being in the hat I’d take that.

“It’s just frustrating because I felt we’d done enough over 80 minutes to probably go on and win the game.”

Action from Maidstone's FA Trophy tie against Gateshead as Andre Coker makes an impression on his first start Picture: Andy Jones
Action from Maidstone's FA Trophy tie against Gateshead as Andre Coker makes an impression on his first start Picture: Andy Jones

However Maidstone tackle the travelling, Saunders is concerned the replay will affect preparations for next Saturday’s league game at Bromley.

An overnight stay on Monday seems unlikely, with United set to travel on the day.

Saunders said: "It’s a big blow because what it does is have a knock-on effect with the game Saturday. It’s not ideal.

"I can’t imagine we can do it any other way than go on the day.

“If we go up on the Monday, you have the whole of the next day just sat about in the hotel and that sometimes is not ideal but we’ll look at all the options and decide what’s best.”

Read the match report from Maidstone's 2-2 draw with Gateshead

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