Matt Roberts – @MatthewVA438
What a miserable afternoon in a cold and, as the game wore on, increasingly wet Maidstone. When the draw was made, I like most others was hardly enthusiastic but thought it was more than winnable, and given our recent form I expected us to have just too much quality for the Stones. I was very wrong however.
After a cagey opening, Maidstone quickly began to dominate proceedings and were able to quickly dictate the pace of the game and we had no response. Maidstone’s goal had been coming but it looked a sloppy one to give away. Wynter was beaten on the edge of the box and a shot from Wishart seemingly found its way through the crowd of players and into the net. Buse was credited with the own goal but it was hard to see even from the replay.
Following the goal, the only real moment of note was Davis going off after a nasty looking injury when he burst into the box to shoot. It was a long stoppage and Davis was eventually stretchered off with Lewis his replacement, who despite his efforts proved that he is no left-back. Let’s hope the injury isn’t as serious as it looked. 1-0 at half time, and having failed to test the Maidstone keeper really at all, United needed a complete shift in performance in the second half.
However, any hopes of a United resurgence in the second half faded very quickly and normal service was resumed, with our forward passes lacking in ambition and quality; our midfield non-existent, and Maidstone looking like they might score with every attacking move. The Gulls got themselves into a few good positions and Whitfied’s corners improved as the game went on, however in truth, the Maidstone keeper was rarely troubled, neither were their defence. Maidstone remained on top and looked the more likely to score as the game drew to a close. I have the feeling that we could’ve played for another hour and still not scored.
Covolan – 6: Couldn’t have done anything with their goal. Distribution was frustrating at times as he took kicks sometimes too quickly which just went straight to a Maidstone player, with no Torquay player in sight.
Wynter – 5: Not a great game for Wynter who was beaten too easily in the first half, which allowed Whishart to break into the box and get the goal. Improved in the second half.
Cundy – 4: Himself and Cameron were uncharacteristically poor today. They gave the ball away far too much and looked consistently uncomfortable when Maidstone went forward.
Cameron – 4: See above.
Davis – 5: Had similar problems as Wynter and never really got into the game before he came off due to injury.
Kalala – 5: Some forays forward when he beat his man, but there was no real end product today.
Whitfield – 6: His corners improved as the game went on, but we failed to make any serious chances from his crosses.
Vincent – 4: The midfield was practically non-existent. There was no vision to make ambitious passes and carve open the Maidstone defence. The ball was also given away far too frequently.
Buse – 4: See above.
Janneh – 5: Not a huge amount to say as neither he nor Reid got any sort of service. Janneh did sky a few shots over the bar in the first half but nothing else of note.
Reid: – 5 See above.
Lewis – 4: Tried his best but looked uncomfortable in a clearly unfamiliar position. Provided no sort of overlap and he very rarely ventured beyond the half-way line.
Keating – N/A: Didn’t really have much opportunity to make a difference in the last 10 minutes. Was his usual energetic self but also gave the ball away a coupe of times. Can jump very high.
Man of the Match: The Yellow Army
The journey from Bristol to Maidstone and back was long for me, but from Torquay it must’ve been torturous with all of the engineering work en-route. To go all that way for such disappointment, the 300+ travelling supporters deserved more than what was provided by the team.
4-4-2 with Whitfield and Kalala out wide. Our inability to change this made getting back into the game difficult, as there were few options on the bench. One possible change would have been to put Duku on in place of a defender for the last 10 minutes, in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser. Given that Johnson did not entertain this possibility, you would have to say that Duku’s time at the club is up. If he can’t get any time when we’re after a goal against a club in the division below, when else will he play?
Maidstone were well up for it under the stewardship of experienced boss John Still. They pressed high up the pitch and were first to every ball (or so it seemed). They were well organised at the back and gave Reid and Janneh nothing. Fully deserved the victory.
Didn’t really notice him a huge amount and I didn’t count many fouls. The game flowed throughout.
Key Moment: The Goal
The worst performance I’ve seen this season, and I went to Notts County when we offered practically nothing. We gave the ball away in defence and midfield constantly and failed to get our strikers into the game. We could only pass sideways it seemed and looked almost afraid to attempt that killer ball, which would allow Reid and Janneh a chance in behind the defence.
The injury list is getting longer. Davis, Andrews, Hall, Little, Evans, Edwards are all now out for varying lengths of time. That is practically a first choice midfield we’re missing and it’s credit to Buse and Vincent that they’ve stepped up in the way they have in recent weeks. However, we badly need some options on the bench yesterday. How we needed the experience of Hall or the creativity of Little, or the energy and skill of Andrews. Let’s hope that the injuries to Davis and Hall are not long-term.
Still, after our exit from the cup, we can focus on the real task at hand, winning the FA Trophy, right?
Sutton United at Plainmoor, 16th November – 3pm Kick-Off