Coventry City 5-0 Maidstone United: Simms hat-trick helps Sky Blues end Stones’ dream FA Cup run

The lowest-ranked side left in the Emirates FA Cup took the trip to the CBS Arena on Monday evening, as National League South Maidstone United made a visit to Championship Coventry City. Mark Robins’ side needed a response following a humbling 3-0 defeat to Preston on Friday.

COV: Wilson; Latibeaudiere, Thomas, Kitching, Bidwell; Kelly, Torp; Simms, Palmer, Tavares; Wright

MAI: Covolan; Greenidge, Fowler, Brown, Kyprianou; Corne, Berkeley-Agyepong; Bone; Sole, Reynolds, Duku

With the Sky Blues hunting a response to their pummelling against Ryan Lowe’s Preston, it was imperative that Mark Robins’ side started quickly, and they laid their intentions down early, forcing Lucas Covolan into a brilliant save from Haji Wright’s volley.

However, City would find themselves in front just under 10 minutes in, as Jake Berkeley-Agyepong’s loose pass found Kasey Palmer who drove towards goal and slipped the ball through to Ellis Simms, who slotted the ball underneath a diving Covolan to give Coventry a deserved lead.

George Elokobi’s charges weren’t down and out just yet, however, and they almost found an instant response through Manny Duku, but the Maidstone striker’s header was well off target. 

Fourteen minutes in, the Sky Blues found themselves two to the good, as Kasey Palmer picked the ball up in midfield and sent Ellis Simms through on goal again. The former Everton man then fired the ball past Covolan to provide the hosts’ National League South opponents with a brutal reality check. 

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With over ten minutes to go until the first half’s end, Mark Robins’ side found a third goal through the man who had scored their first two. A long pass forward by Sky Blues captain Liam Kelly found Kasey Palmer who drove his shot towards goal; forcing a good save out of Lucas Covolan. However, the Brazilian could only palm the ball out towards Ellis Simms, who smashed home the rebound to seal his first senior hat-trick – and in truth, the end of Maidstone’s phenomenal run in this season’s FA Cup.

Victor Torp could have added a fourth for the home side just moments later, only for Stones stopper Covolan to be equal to the Dane’s long-range strike.

Mark Robins introduced Callum O’Hare for Haji Wright at half-time and the Coventry fan favourite was almost on the scoresheet himself just moments after, but the former Aston Villa man’s strike was caught comfortably by Lucas Covolan. Fabio Tavares was also released one-on-one with Covolan a few minutes later, but the Portuguese’s shot was wayward and drifted well wide at the near post. 

Kasey Palmer also could have been on the scoresheet himself, but his first-time effort was palmed away well by Covolan in the United goal. Fabio Tavares also saw a long-range strike saved comfortably by the Maidstone United goalkeeper soon after.

Sky Blues substitute Josh Eccles then tested Lucas Covolan with a well-struck volley from range, but his goal-bound effort was ultimately saved calmly by the Brazilian. 

With just two minutes to go, Coventry put the icing on the cake as they grabbed a fourth. Sky Blues substitute Matt Godden received the ball just outside the box and laid it off to Fabio Tavares, who took a touch and then blasted the ball past Lucas Covolan for his second goal for the hosts.

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Tavares had his second in second half stoppage time, as Lucas Covolan palmed away Matt Godden’s original shot into the path of the Portuguese, who tucked the ball home with ease.

Both sides return to league action next time out, with Coventry City heading to Championship rivals West Bromwich Albion for an 8pm kickoff on Friday, while Maidstone United travel to Dover Athletic in the National League South the following day at 3pm.