Replay to decide winner in FA Cup tieStevenage and Maidstone United will meet again in the FA Cup first round after a goalless draw at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon.
Boro failed to break down a stubborn Maidstone who also showed going forward why they are flying in the Ryman Premier League this season. Chris Day was forced into a couple of key saves, particularly one from Frannie Collin on 79 minutes, but Graham Westley's men struck the woodwork twice and had an effort cleared off the line as they pushed hard late on.
If Stevenage were hoping for a straightforward tie against their lower-league opponents then they were mistaken as the non-league side started the game confidently.
After a bright first 10 minutes for the visitors, Alex Flisher robbed Dave McAllister in midfield and ran at the Boro defence before releasing Jay May who shot dangerously across goal. For the hosts it was a warning shot of what was to follow in the minutes ahead.
Four minutes later top scorer Frannie Collin saw a close-range shot deflect behind as Boro failed to clear a ball into the box, with a flicked header from centre-back Steve Watt then gathered by Day at the second attempt as the Stones kept up the early pressure.
It took until the 20 minute mark for Boro to really wake up with Charlie Adams jinking his way from the right flank and unleashing a low effort which bounced just wide.
Five minutes later the same player found Pett on the far touchline with a superb cross-field ball. The winger showed excellent control and then whipped in a cross which Barnard was just beaten to. It sparked an otherwise quiet Lamex crowd into life as Graham Westley’s men gradually came more and more into the half.
They ended the first 45 strongly with Pett just unable to reach a dangerous Lee cross and then Whelpdale forcing the first save from Lee Worgan when he collected a Pett cross, turned and fired in a low effort.
The second half began in much the same way as the first with Maidstone creating the better of the chances going forward. Boro’s backline were kept on their toes with Dean Wells having to time a tackle superbly to thwart Bodkin from running into the box and Ashton then blocking well as Collin met a Flisher cross in the box.
Provider nearly turned goalscorer moments later as Flisher flashed a shot wide, much to the Boro faithful’s relief and agony of the capacity away support behind Day’s goal who were superb all afternoon.
Graham Westley brought Simon Walton and Roarie Deacon on just past the hour and both were to have an impact on the game, if not the result. Walton brought a steady presence to the midfield as Boro regained composure in the middle of the pitch and Deacon was to prove a lively outlet on the left flank.
With 13 minutes remaining Stevenage should have taken the lead. Deacon burst to the byline and put in the perfect cross for Whelpdale, four yards out, but he headed over with the goal at his mercy. He held his head in his hands and it was to set the tone for a frustrating last period of the game.
Two minutes later and Maidstone had their golden chance to snatch the lead when Collin burst through. Ashton and Wells were recovering back but the striker held them off and forced Day into a vital block with his legs. A major save.
The last 10 minutes was frantic as Maidstone dropped deeper, inviting Boro onto them. Whelpdale saw a shot deflect behind after patient build up play but even then there was danger at the other end as Day gathered a Flisher header from a swift Stones counter.
Sub Deacon rattled the woodwork with a fierce effort, Maidstone cleared off the line from a Walton free-kick and Beardsley hit the post with a header as Boro piled on the pressure in the closing stages but it just wasn’t to be.
In truth a late winner would have been extremely harsh on the hardworking Stones, but a draw it was, meaning a replay at the Gallagher Stadium at a date to be confirmed in the coming week.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Ashton, Wells, Charles, Pett (Beardsley 84), McAllister (Walton 60), Lee, Adams (Deacon 60), Whelpdale, Barnard
Subs not used: Beasant, Dembele, Okimo, Conlon
Maidstone: Worgan, Coyle (Simpson 88), Mills, Watt, Miles, Rogers, Bodkin, Parkinson, May (Greenhalgh 72), Collin (Brown 85), Flisher
Subs not used: Jordan, Robertson, Davies, Godmon
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 2,935 (1,375 away)