Portman Road has welcomed a plethora of EFL Championship sides throughout the opening half of the 2023/24 campaign, but perhaps the most highly-anticipated clash of the season would take place on Saturday as non-league Maidstone United headed to Ipswich Town’s beloved ground.
98 places separated the high-flying EFL Championship side from their National League South opponents – but could the magic of the Emirates FA Cup make another appearance to seal Maidstone United’s participation in the Fifth Round?
IPS: Walton; Humphreys, Edmundson, Tuanzebe, Ball; Taylor, Morsy; Sarmiento, Aluko, Hutchinson; Broadhead
MAI: Covolan Cauagnari; Kyprianou, Appiah, Fowler, Hoyte; Bone, Berkeley-Agyepong, Corne; Reynolds, Duku, Sole
The gulf in the quality of these two sides was certainly apparent throughout much of the first half, with the Tractor Boys thrice striking the woodwork as they desperately sought to take the lead against non-league opposition.
But with just minutes remaining before the interval, it was a dinked finish from Maidstone United’s Lamar Reynolds that saw the away side remarkably fire themselves into the lead – capitalising on the hosts’ inability to capitalise on their chances.
Jeremy Sarmiento would seemingly be Ipswich Town’s hero just ten minutes into the second half when his low strike took a deflection to find a way past Lucas Covolan Cauagnari, but the Stones would remain undeterred despite conceding a crushing leveller.
It was shortly after the hour mark that Sam Corne cemented his place in Maidstone United’s history books, slotting a composed finish past Christian Walton after a sublime counter-attack from the Stones.Embed from Getty Images
The visitors were able to defend resolutely for the remainder of the match, navigating a tricky and testing eight minutes of stoppage time to become the first side from the sixth tier of English football to reach the Fifth Round since the North/South divide was introduced 20 years ago.