Boro knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Maidstone
Frannie Collin etched his name in FA Cup lore as he guided non-league Maidstone United into the second round proper at the expense of League Two Stevenage.
The 27-year-old, so good in the original tie at the Lamex Stadium, scored after 68 seconds but it was his goal in the 88th that ensured the Stones’ safe passage in the competition.
Both goals were a masterclass in positioning as he reacted to Chris Day’s poor save to score from a tight angle before getting a clear run onto Ben Greenhalgh’s cross to head the winner and bring the Gallagher Stadium to its feet.
All the talk in the build up to the game had been about the Stones’ 3G pitch but it played little part in the first-half as both teams were direct. The tactic served Maidstone well as Collin’s first goal came from a long ball, headed on by Alex Flisher to Jay May, whose shot was parried into the striker’s path.
Boro did have their opportunities to level the game in the first period but Lee Worgan answered the call each time. Lee Barnard came closest with a downward header but Maidstone’s custodian was quickly down low to his left to flick the ball behind.
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The urgency and efficiency Stevenage lacked in the first-half was immediately evident at the start of the second and Darius Charles’ volley in the 47th minute levelled the tie.
From then on, as the players became more comfortable with the 3G surface, Stevenage grew in confidence. Charlie Lee, Chris Whelpdale and Simon Walton, largely ignored by Boro’s direct tactics in the first 45 minutes, began to link up play and pull Maidstone’s defenders in all directions and only the offside flag and Worgan’s gloves kept Barnard and Whelpdale from scoring.
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There was seemingly only one winner as, just like two weeks ago, the non-league side faded but Greenhalgh produced one more piece of quality to send Stevenage out of the competition. Collecting the ball on the left, he ran past Dean Wells and lifted the ball to Collin to headed past Day.
The fans invaded the pitch on the final whistle to celebrate an FA Cup giant killing that will go down alongside the best in the tournament’s history.