Maidstone United Lift The Silverware!
Maidstone United 0 - 0 Folkestone Invicta - MUFC Win 4-2 on penalties.
For the first time in more than a quarter of a century, Maidstone United lifted the Kent Reliance Senior Cup.
But that was only after a heroic effort from Folkestone Invicta and, in particular Man of the Match keeper Tim Roberts, who along with his magnificent defence repelled everything the Stones had to offer only to succumb to the heart-breaking that is losing a penalty shoot-out.
During the ninety minutes and in particular the first half, Roberts was outstanding for his side with one incredible double save from Alex Finney the undoubted high light. But from the spot the Stones were perfect with all of their penalties and the unfortunate Kieron McCann sent his effort high over the bar, the trophy was Maidstone’s.
After the presentation of the great old trophy, Stones boss Jay Saunders told KSN, “Its nice to get to the Final and win it. Its always nice to win something – it’s the first time as a manager, I won it as a player with Margate and I think Gravesend too – its nice to add to playing medals as a manager.
Folkestone boss Neil Cugley, for whom the Final was the 801st of his awesome managerial career, was in a reflective mood as he spoke to KSN. He told us, “The first half they were the better side and Tim kept us in the game, but I thought we got more into it as the game went on. We were awful in the League on Saturday and I think we put a few things right tonight going into the Play Offs next week. We’ve had a great season – we’ve made a Cup Final and got to the Play Offs – so it hasn’t been a bad season for us.”
First clear chance fell to Maidstone on 18 minutes when Coker burst into the box on the left and forced Tim Roberts into a smart save. And after Roberts had turned aside Paxman’s shot in the Stones next attack, the Folkestone keeper did well again to keep out Tom Wraight’s header from the corner.
Moments later the Stones went even closer when Jamar Loza’s angled shot came back off the Folkestone bar. The “home” side were definitely now on top and only a wonder double save from Roberts to deny Alex Finney from a free kick just before the half hour kept the score-line blank.
Sam Hasler then finally tested Lee Worgan in the Maidstone goal with a free kick forcing the Stones stopper into a smart save and from the corner, Joe Taylor’s header landed on the roof of the net.
The second half began as cagily as the first and it took until the 69th minute for a shot of any note and then Worgan had to be at his alert best to keep our Kieron McCann’s effort.
Ade Yusuff manage to drill the ball across Worgan goal with a quarter of hour to goa to spark a spell of Folkestone pressure that also saw a Hasler free kick deflect off a defender and fly narrowly wide.
Substitute Blair Turgott then had a drilled shot well beaten out by Roberts as the Folkestone keeper did well yet again with just five minutes left. But the final whistle drew a blank score-line and so it went to penalties…
The first four were unnervingly precise with Turgott and Jai Reason netting for the Stones and Joe Taylor and Yusuff replying. Reece Prestedge then put Maidstone ahead only for Hasler to hit the bar. Phillips’ conversion of the Stones fourth, left all the pressure on McCann to keep his side in the contest but sadly for him, he sent his effort high into the massed ranks of Maidstone fans behind the goal.
It wasn’t an epic final by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a game that showed just how strong and competitive Non-League football is in Kent at the moment and was a credit to both sides…
A final word to the Stones boss Jay Saunders. “I remember being at the Final last year,” he said, “and a Kent FA man said to me “when are you going to have a run in this?” I said when we have a squad big enough and strong enough. I hope he’s been here tonight,” Saunders said as he touched the Trophy sitting next to him!
FOLKESTONE INVICTA FC – Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent, Nat Blanes (Matt Newman 24), Michael Everitt (Ian Draycott 73), Callum Davies, Sam Hasler, Johan Ter Horst, (Ronnie Dolan 61), Jeral Aboagye, Joe Taylor, Ade Yusuff, Kieron McCann
Subs – Jordan Wright, Nick Shaw
MAIDSTONE UNITED FC – Lee Worgan, Alex Finney, Reece Prestedge. Alex Wynter, Jamar Loza (Darius Osei 78), Jack Paxman (Michael Phillips 71), Joe Anderson, Jai Reason, Seth Nana Twumasi, Andre Coker (Blair Turgott 61)
Subs – Stuart Lewis, Darius Osei, Jack Richards
Referee – Jack Packman
Assistants – Joe Stokes, Ricky Adams & Simon Finnegan
Attendance – 1,685