Non-league Maidstone United shock Championship high-flyers Ipswich to reach the last 16


Maidstone United harnessed the magic of the FA Cup to stun Championship high fliers Ipswich Town at Portman Road and become the first team from the sixth tier of English football to reach the Fifth Round since Blyth Spartans in 1978.

Lamar Reynolds and Sam Corne scored the historic goals for the National League South team but there were heroes all over the place for Maidstone.

Not least goalkeeper Lucas Covolan, who produced a series of incredible saves as Ipswich piled on the pressure in the late stages of the tie and through a nail-biting eight minutes of stoppage time to secure one of the great FA Cup upsets of all time.

Little wonder the scenes of jubilation at the final whistle as popular manager George Elokobi and his players celebrated with 4,500 away fans, and were graciously applauded by thousands of home fans.

Elokobi had started the day by taking his players outside the stadium before the game to address some of those supporters, with a message to enjoy the day.

Maidstone players celebrate together after Sam Corne (second left) scored the winning goal

Maidstone players celebrate together after Sam Corne (second left) scored the winning goal

Corne kept his cool after being played through on goal to slot home under pressure

Corne kept his cool after being played through on goal to slot home under pressure

Maidstone's historic win was masterminded by former Premier League star George Elokobi

Maidstone’s historic win was masterminded by former Premier League star George Elokobi

Maidstone were well aware of the step up in class. They had made their way past opposition from League Two and League One to reach this stage but Ipswich, flying high in the Championship with sights set on a Premier League return, was an altogether different test.

MATCH FACTS

Ipswich (4-2-3-1): Walton; Tuanzebe, Ball (Clarke 57), Edmundson, Humphreys (Davis 57); Morsy, Taylor; Hutchinson (Burns 69), Aluko (Chaplin 57), Sarmiento (Buabo 69); Broadhead

Goal: Sarmiento

Booked: Edmundson

Manager: Kieran McKenna

Maidstone (5-3-2): Covolan; Hoyte, Fowler, Bone (Iandolo 74), Appiah, Kyprianou; Berkeley-Agyepong (Gurung 63), Sole (Greenidge 59), Corne; Reynolds (Court 74), Duku

Goals: Reynolds, Corne

Booked: Hoyte

Manager: George Elokobi 

As if to emphasise this point, the home team came out at a ferocious pace, peppering Covolan’s goal with whistling and fizzing shots from all angles. Twice they rattled the woodwork. Sarmiento, on loan from Brighton, hit one post and Omari Hutchinson, on loan from Chelsea, hit the other with a deflected shot.

For Covolan, a Brazil Under-20 international who started his career with Philippe Coutinho in the youth ranks of Vasco da Gama, it might have been like stepping back in time as he protected his goal from this barrage of swerving long-range efforts.

In front of him, the yellow shirts massed to shield him with heroic blocks and clearances. Covolan stuck out a boot to save from Nathan Broadhead, then made diving saves to frustrate Hutchinson and Sam Morsy. Ipswich grew frustrated and their finishing became impatient.

George Edmundson headed a wonderful chance wide back post corner and Sone Aluko shinned one wide to a chorus of groans. Covolan was relieved when Sarmiento’s sweet drive took a deflection and clipped the bar on its way over.

Maidstone rode their luck as they did against Stevenage but confidence grew. With half an hour gone, left-back Harry Kyprianou performed one of those extravagant turns popularised by Zinedine Zidane to escape Hutchinson.

The visitors started to threaten on the break but it was to the astonishment of everyone present when they took the lead just before half time, when Liam Sole’s sweeping pass released Reynolds and he showed the Ipswich forwards just how to finish under pressure.

Lamar Reynolds (right) put Maidstone in front just before half time with a delicate chip

Lamar Reynolds (right) put Maidstone in front just before half time with a delicate chip

He was mobbed by his team-mates, but Ipswich hit back after the break

He was mobbed by his team-mates, but Ipswich hit back after the break

Jeremy Sarmiento pulled Ipswich level in the 56th minute with a precise finish from the edge of the box

Jeremy Sarmiento pulled Ipswich level in the 56th minute with a precise finish from the edge of the box

It was his first goal for Maidstone since joining from Braintree last summer and sparked a wild pile-on celebration featuring all the substitutes, plenty of the coaching staff and goalkeeper Covolan, who sprinted the length of the pitch.

Who can blame him? These are the golden moments for non-league footballers, performing on a grand stage before nearly 28,000. Opportunities like this come around rarely and can be fleeting. That was the way it seemed when Ipswich levelled soon after the restart.

Sarmiento cut inside onto right foot and found the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty box and McKenna’s reaction was to send on three of his regular first-teamers. Two of them combined immediately, with Conor Chaplin firing over from a free-kick by Leif Davis.

Ipswich senses were heightened in search of a second, but they were caught out again at the back by the pace of Reynolds, who broke down the left and released Corne, who accepted the pass on the run, drove on and fired low past Christian Walton.

Maidstone goalkeeper Lucas Covolan produced an inspired performance to keep Ipswich at bay

Maidstone goalkeeper Lucas Covolan produced an inspired performance to keep Ipswich at bay

He loved every minute of the game as Maidstone pulled off a major upset

He loved every minute of the game as Maidstone pulled off a major upset

It was terrific composure from Corne, just as it was in the third round when he scored the decisive penalty in the win against Stevenage.

McKenna threw on more substitutes. Wes Burns went close and Covolan saved from Chaplin as a little desperation crept into the air. Edmundson picked up a yellow card for diving in search of a penalty.

Maidstone were pinned back and Covolan made perhaps his best save of the afternoon in the 84th minute, a reflex reaction to keep out a close-range effort by Chaplin, then made another almost as good to deny Burns.

Eight minutes were added by Maidstone held on and move into the last 16.



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