Stevenage crashed out of the FA Cup after a 2-1 first round replay defeat at Maidstone United this evening.
Frannie Collin was the hero for the Stones with a goal in each half - the second just three minutes before time - with a Darius Charles volley the only thing Boro had to show for a hardworking, yet ultimately rewardless performance.
Graham Westley made just the one change to the weekend line-up with Chris Whelpdale returning from injury to take the place of the injured Chris Beardsley.
With the atmosphere at the Gallagher Stadium electric at kick-off the majority of the capacity crowd got their dream start with a goal inside 90 seconds. Frannie Collin had a chance late on in the initial tie to put the Stones in front but made no mistake here, tucking home after Day could only palm Jay May’s shot. It was the worst possible opening for Stevenage and a goal to the good, Jay Saunders’ men were full of confidence.
With 13 minutes gone Collin again found himself through after a flick over the top, but Day was alert to the danger and came out to gather.
Gradually Stevenage came into it and on 17 minutes Lee Barnard forced Lee Worgan into a fine low save after latching onto a loose ball inside the box. Such were the cheers around the stadium, anyone arriving late would’ve assumed another home goal.
Whelpdale blasted over but Maidstone were looking the more comfortable on their 3G surface, hurrying and hassling Boro in midfield and being quick to sniff out any danger that threatened their goal.
Up front they continued to look lively too, with firstly Charles and then Henry defending well – Boro’s skipper in particular putting in a vital block as the tricky Flisher looked to double the advantage. From the resulting corner Day saw his attempted punch fly backwards and behind again for another corner. Inches the other way and it would have meant further embarrassment.
Roarie Deacon was seeing plenty of the ball in the first half for Boro and was looking the biggest threat, particularly when cutting in from the left flank. On the half hour a volley from the winger forced Worgan into another fine save as Maidstone refused to let Boro back into the game. The same player then saw a fierce drive towards the far corner dip just too late, as the hosts went in one goal to the good.
Within a minute of the restart though Stevenage drew level in style, thanks to a beautiful volleyed effort from Darius Charles after Boro had won back possession and pinged a ball into the box.
Buoyed by that strike the visitors immediately looked brighter, with Deacon cutting in and flashing a shot just wide. It lead to the best period of the game for Stevenage who were now looking much more comfortable in possession, but were failing to really penetrate the hardworking Stones.
Day kept Boro in the game with a fine save from close range and Whelpdale tested Worgan with a fierce drive but otherwise there was little in the way of clear-cut chances until the final moments. Whelpdale nearly won the game for Stevenage when he poked an effort towards goal when one-on-one, only to see it cleared and in true drama Maidstone promptly went up the other end and applied the killer blow.
With time ticking away the Stones had the ball down the left and delivered the perfect ball into the box for Collin to steer his header home amidst wild scenes of jubilation.
Four minutes of injury time came and went before the referee called time on the game and Boro’s progression in this season’s FA Cup. Maidstone, meanwhile, advance to a second round tie at Wrexham with nothing to fear.
Maidstone: Worgan, Simpson, Miles, Coyle, Mills, Bodkin (Greenhalgh 79), Parkinson, Rogers, Flisher, May, Collin (Brown 89)
Subs not used: Jordan, Robertson, Davies, Kitt, Godman
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Wells, Charles, Okimo (Dembele 81), Whelpdale, McAllister (Jebb 91), Walton, Deacon (Adams 81), Lee, Barnard
Subs not used: Beasant, Ashton, Bond, Pett