Published: 17:03, 09 November 2019
| Updated: 17:05, 09 November 2019
Maidstone are through to the FA Cup second round for the third year running after beating National League high-fliers Torquay.
A first-half own goal by Matt Buse settled the tie at a rocking Gallagher Stadium and earned the Stones another £36,000 in prize money.
United worked their socks off to a man to nullify the visitors on a terrific afternoon.
You wouldn’t want to pick a man-of-the-match although the centre-back pairing of George Elokobi and Luke Pennell, Ryan Johnson playing in front of the back four and the in-form Saidou Khan all deserve a mention for outstanding displays.
Recent history favoured the Stones, having won all four National League meetings between 2016 and 2018, not to mention a handsome FA Trophy win at Plainmoor.
But the Gulls are different proposition these days under their decorated manager Gary Johnson, sitting fifth on their return to non-league’s top flight, just two points off the top and the leading scorers in the division.
There was a good early chance for the Stones when Khan did well to reach the byline and cut the ball back for Ibby Akanbi who prodded wide.
Kalvin Kalala fired wide after a sharp move featuring Saikou Janneh and Jamie Reid, and Elokobi made a perfectly-timed challenge on Buse as Torquay enjoyed a good spell.
But Maidstone took the lead in the 18th minute.
Akanbi did ever so well just outside the box to hold on to the ball and play in Wishart who made progress in the box before his cross was diverted in by Gulls man Buse for an own goal.
Liam Davis missed a big chance for the visitors when played in by Kalala but credit Pennell for putting him under pressure.
That was the end of Davis’ afternoon, injured in the process, and stretchered off.
Reid worked Cole before Stones debutant Cameron James tested Lucas Covolan from 25 yards at the other end.
The Stones also had a penalty shot turned down when Wishart went down under challenge from Ben Wynter but referee Joe Hull gave a free-kick the other way.
Kalala blazed over early from Janneh’s cross early in the second half - a golden chance to level - after Reid’s pass split the defence.
Either side of that, a couple of stonking runs from the excellent Khan got Maidstone up the pitch.
Elokobi twice went close - a deflected 20-yard strike that brought a massive roar from the Genco - and a header just over.
That was the trigger for Maidstone to go for the jugular and they put Torquay under plenty of pressure in search of a second goal.
Back came Torquay with Noah Chesmain clearing a header off the line as United, getting numbers back, continued to defend impressively.
Great work by Khan on the edge of the box made room for a shot which went just wide as Maidstone again threatened a second but the hosts were grateful to Pennell moments later for a crucial interception in the six-yard box.
Maidstone: Cole, Hoyte, Pennell, Elokobi, Chesmain, Johnson, Kyei (Amaluzor 90mins), James, Khan, Wishart, Akanbi (Edwards 77mins). Subs not used: Gilbert, Embery, Lewington, Allen, McClure. Attendance: 2,330 (303 away).
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More by this authorCraig Tucker
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