Maidstone progress to Kent Senior Cup final
Maidstone progress to Kent Senior Cup final

Maidstone United forget about their relegation toils for one night as they edged past a young Gillingham side and into the Kent Senior Cup Final after a penalty shootout at the Gallagher Stadium.

The Gills were in the lead twice through Tahvon Campbell’s smart finish from Regan Charles Cook’s pull back and Elliott List who outpaced a static home defence to score with some ease, only for first Elliott Romain to power home a header for 1-1 and then Justin Amaluzor levelled for the Stones drilling past an exposed Tom Hadler to force the shoot out.

And after List and the unlucky Billy King missed in the shootout, it was left to substitute Blair Turgott to hammer the ball past Hadler in the Gills goal to send Maidstone through to face Bromley in the Final at the end of April.

It was tough on the Gills keeper who had pulled off the save of the night to deny Amaluzor’s penalty, though it mustn’t be forgotten that Stones keeper Dion-Curtis Henry did well to palm List’s effort away before watching King’s effort disappear into the crowd.

Stones coach Hakan Hayrettin was delighted that his players had finally given the Gallagher faithful something to cheer after a season at home that could best be described as mixed; It’ll give the supporters a lift and the whole club. There were times when I didn’t know if I was in Kent or not such was the passion of the supporters tonight – amazing support; we both put out strong teams. We gave away what we thought were two sloppy goals and had to work hard to get back in the game.”

“When it went to penalties of course it was a lottery, but I’m so pleased for the supporters and so pleased for the club. It’s small steps that we’re making and hopefully the supporters will see that and I’m hoping that come Saturday and our game with Ebbsfleet, the support is more, and they get behind the team to see if we can produce another result like that.”

“We don’t have to be in the best team, we have to be in the winning team and if we can find that formula and keep making steps in the right direction, we’re achieving something, and you can see that we are.”

Meanwhile, it was Ben White who took the Gills side, and he told the gathered media after the game and admitted that one of the big plusses on a frustrating night was that Alex Lacey returning from injury had lasted the ninety minutes, “I thought Lace looked solid and was a chance for him to get some minutes in – the gaffer was in the stand and he’ll know that if he needs to, Lace should be OK!”]

“Thought overall the boys performed reasonably well. It was a mixture of those who had been on the edge of the first team and some young lads and some coming back from injuries. When the strikers who can’t get in the first team both score goals in a game like this it has to be good for both of them!

Tom was so nearly the hero at the end as well. It’s been difficult for him as he’s been number two all season and only played a couple of games last season. He played well tonight and was nearly the hero though, not quite, unfortunately, near enough!”

MAIDSTONE UNITED – Curtis-Henry, Meredith, De Havilland, Davies, Romain, Paxman (Turgott 84), Amaluzor, Wishart, Donnellan, Phillips (Powell 85), Edobar.

Subs not used – Strizovic, Walton, Richards.

Goals: Romain (18), Amaluzor (47).

GILLINGHAM – Hadler, Chapman, Lacey, Tucker, Garmston, Oldaker, Rees, Charles-Cook, King, List, Campbell.

Subs not used – Catherall, Simpson, Woods, Stevenson, Morrell.

Goals: Rees (8), List (38).

Referee – Aji Ajibola

Assistants – Joe Stokes & Jack Fagg

Fourth Official – Graeme Ions

Attendance: 1,389 (428 Gills).

Picture supplied by Gillingham Football Club.