Gills suffer narrow defeat in quarter-finals.
Gillingham have been knocked out of the Kent Senior Cup following a 2-1 defeat to Maidstone at the Gallagher Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Jack Paxman had given Stones the lead in the first half but trialist Rhys Murphy levelled things up just before the break. The hosts controlled possession for most of the second period and went 2-1 up when an effort from Reece Prestedge appeared to take a deflection as the ball went up and over Stuart Nelson before dipping at the last moment.
Gills did their best to force extra-time but Maidstone stood firm to advance to the semi-finals.
Jay Saunders and Steve Lovell named competitive sides with Gills fielding two trialists in their starting XI. Rhys Murphy, formerly of Forest Green, started up front with Frank Moussa lining up in midfield.
Navid Nasseri, another midfielder, was among the substitutes with Noel Mbo and Aaron Simpson providing other options.
Josh Hare, formerly a Gills player, was in the Maidstone XI with Stuart Lewis on the bench.
Both sides had half chances in the opening stages with Josh Hare first having a header comfortably saved by Nelson before Liam Nash’s strike from 25 yards was high and wide of Lee Worgan’s goal.
On ten minutes both sides again had opportunities within moments of each other; firstly Worgan did well to cut out Wilkinson’s through ball to Nash. The resulting kick found Jamar Loza who did his best to beat Stuart Nelson to the ball 18 yards out; the keeper showed tremendous bravery to head it clear and after receiving treatment both players were able to continue.
Six minutes later and Darius Osei had two chances within the space of 30 seconds to try and give Maidstone the lead. The forward first had a shot from 20 yards well saved by Nelson before the keeper was equal to another shot from slightly further out.
A free-kick from Darren Oldaker was punched away by Worgan and Maidstone countered at a terrific speed; however the resulting effort from just outside the box was well wide of Nelson’s right post. Another Hare effort, this time a left footed strike, went a yard wide of the target as Jay Saunders side progressively began to control possession.
And they made their pressure count on 26 minutes; Paxman worked his way to the edge of the penalty area and shot across Nelson from a little over 18 yards. The keeper was at full stretch but couldn’t keep it out, giving Maidstone the lead.
Jamar Loza stung the palms of Nelson on 33 minutes, although the keeper comfortably dealt with the shot from 20 yards. Gillingham struggled at the other end to create anything clear cut; their first meaningful opportunity coming on 38 minutes when List’s powerful effort inside the box was palmed away by Worgan who collected the resulting corner with ease.
However Gills made the most of their possession by drawing level a few minutes before the break. Nash used his pace on the edge of the box to get away from his marker and send a powerful left footed effort towards goal. Worgan made a fine save but the loose ball fell into the path of Murphy who was first to react and headed home from close range.
The game carried on in the same fashion as it had been for most of the first-half. Maidstone were quicker out of the blocks although their first real chance of the second period fell to Jai Reason who sliced a 20-yard effort wide of the right post before Reece Prestedge struck the bar with a long range shot.
Shortly after Loza struck the side netting from a tight angle as Maidstone looked to get themselves back in front at the earliest possible opportunity.
On 64 minutes Maidstone had another chance; this time Twumasi cut in from the right and tried to beat Nelson low to his left but his strike was half a yard wide with Nelson again well placed to make the save.
Eight minutes later however the keeper was helpless as Maidstone took the lead. Prestedge had space 25 yards from goal, took a touch and decided to have a go at goal. The ball appeared to be going over the top but dipped at the last moment, perhaps having taken a deflection, but Nelson could only stand there as the ball nestled in the back of the net.
Prestedge could have had a second not long after but was denied courtesy of an excellent save from Nelson. The stopper was in action shortly afterwards to deny Osei who had created space inside the area for a shot, only to see the keeper off his line and he did well to block the powerful shot.
In the closing stages Nasseri, on for Oldaker, saw an effort well stopped by Worgan before Wilkinson’s low drive narrowly missed the target.
Maidstone: Worgan, Hare, Prestedge, Wynter, Loza (Richards 88), Sam-Yorke, Paxman, Anderson, Reason, Twumasi, Osei.
Unused subs: Taylor, Lewis, Capel, Bartlett.
Gills: Nelson, Lacey, Nugent, Ogilvie, List (Mbo 69), Oldaker (Nasseri 78), Moussa, Nash, Cundle, Murphy (Simpson 57), Wilkinson.
Unused subs: Hadler, Tucker
Referee: Mr P Yates