STEP TOO FAR FOR STONES!
Dream dies as Harry’s men come up short
MAIDSTONE UNITED 0 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2 Clarke 17, O’Grady 84
MAIDSTONE United’s FA Cup dream came crashing down around them as they were comfortably beaten by League Two Oldham Athletic at the Gallagher Stadium.
With leading goalscorer Blair Turgott sustaining a knee injury in the week, it was always going to be difficult for the Stones to create much going forward and apart from a short spell at the start of the second half, they never put the Lactics under significant pressure.
Goals in each half from defender Peter Clarke and Chris O’Grady put paid to their challenge, leaving manager Harry Wheeler to lament poor defending for costing his side dear.
“All we had to do was clear the ball and we could have gone in at nil-nil at half-time,” he said after a third defeat in a row.
“We are disappointed with the little moments but we matched them and we tried to push as far as we could.”
Maidstone’s already difficult task got all the more tougher on 17 minutes when the Latics broke the deadlock.
Aryan Tajbakhsh conceded a free-kick about 20 yards out, Gevaro Nepomuceno curled the ball into the box. As it appeared to be tamely drifting out, Alex Finney somehow managed to keep the ball in play and Samuel Edmundson found Clarke who finished from close range.
Oldham upped the tempo after taking the lead and Nepomuceno was involved once again when he whipped in a dangerous cross which Callum Lang headed over from just six yards out.
Then Sam Surridge was played in down the left and he quickly got a drive away which took a deflection off Jack Powell and flew up onto the bar.
The Stones were struggling to contain the visitors at times and it wasn’t until the 44th minute that they conjured up their first real shot at goal but Elliott Romain hit the ball straight at Daniel Iverson when well placed.
Six minutes after the break, the Lactics went very close to doubling their lead. A corner from Mohammed Mauouche was allowed to come to Surridge who headed the ball goalwards only for it to be blocked on the line and close to the post by Jack Paxman.
Romain forced Iverson into a block with his legs as Maidstone when in search of an equaliser, but the game was sealed six minutes from time – O’Grady turning past Will de Havilland inside the box and squeezed the ball past Grant Smith from an impossible angle at his near post.
Latics boss and legend Frankie Bunn was clear on who he would like in the next round, saying: “I was at Man City for a couple of years so that would be good.”
STAR MAN: Gevaro Nepomuceno (Oldham) ATT: 3,560 ENTERTAINMENT: ★★★★★ REFEREE: Alan Young 6/10
BATTLE LINES: Maidstone’s Olu Durojaiye chases down Gevaro Nepomuceno. Inset, Oldham celebrate their first goal, top as Maidstone applaud their fans at the end, below