STEP TOO FAR FOR STONES!

Dream dies as Harry’s men come up short

The Non-League Football Paper - - SATURDAY MATCH CENTRE - By Ruth Tun­nell

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

PICTURE: TGSPHOTO

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

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