FA Cup first round

Maldon & Tiptree pulled off the unthinkable as they beat Leyton Orient on a truly breathtaking day of FA Cup action for the Jammers.

There were 77 league places separating Maldon and their League Two hosts at the start of the day but that counted for nothing as the Jammers won 2-1 to seal their place in the second round for the first time in their history.

It was their first-ever appearance in the first round, but they weren’t intimidated by the opposition or the occasion and, backed by a vociferous band of 657 supporters, they made sure it was the most memorable of days.

It had been an almost unblemished run for the Jammers on the way to their FA Cup showdown at the O’s.

Maldon had won 19 out of their 20 games in all competitions and were only beaten after a penalty shootout in their sole slip-up after drawing a Velocity Trophy tie 2-2 against AFC Sudbury.

Their previous FA Cup successes had seen wins against Saffron Walden Town, Histon, Wingate & Finchley, Chertsey Town and Royston Town.

Orient, meanwhile, were having their first outing in this year’s FA Cup and came into the tie on the back of having taken just a single point from their last three League Two games.

That had seen them placed 16th in the League Two table after 17 games – 77 places above Maldon - but they had beaten Brighton & Hove Albion’s Under-21s on penalties in a leasings.com Trophy tie – after it had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes – in midweek.

Maldon boss Wayne Brown made two changes to his team from the side that had started the 3-1 win against Grays Athletic in their previous outing in BetVictor Isthmian League division north.

That saw Kojo Awotwi and Quba Gordon coming into the line-up as Lance Akins moved to the bench and Conor Hubble was cup-tied.

Previous game was in front of a crowd of 190 in BetVictor Isthmian League division north eight days earlier at their Park Drive home in Maldon, while this was before an attendance of 3,425.

A large section of that crowd was in the away end and the travelling Maldon fans made themselves heard from the first whistle.

Their team certainly wasn’t overawed in the opening exchanges and they looked to stick to their footballing principles of getting the ball down and playing it rather than rushed long clearances.

That saw the early exchanges fairly even, but the O’s began to look a threat as they used the flanks to open the Jammers with teasing crosses.

It was from one of these that the first chance came on 12 minutes for the host as a cross into the middle was teed up for Craig Clay but he skewed his shot horribly wide from a good position.

Maldon kept a disciplined shape at the back, though, and more than held their own as they started to get forward themselves and they went close on 21 minutes with a wonderful bit of skill from Danny Parish.

A lovely run by the Jammers forward took him - via a couple of cheeky step-overs - to the edge of the box before curling in a lovely effort that home keeper Sam Sargeant did brilliantly to tip over the bar.

It showed there was plenty in the cup tie for the visitors and they were buoyed by that as they began to press more with some excellent forward play, with Parish remaining the focal point of their most threatening moves.

The game remained very open, though, and the O’s went very close on 37 minutes.

The chance came when a neat move down the left saw the ball played to Josh Wright in the middle but his well-struck volley was well held by Ben McNamara in the Maldon goal.

Just when it looked as though the game would stay level at half-time, though, Maldon went ahead in the 43rd minute.

The ball broke after a foul in midfield and referee Charles Breakspear played a great advantage that allowed Charlee Hughes to carry the ball up to the edge of the Orient box.

He saw the run of Parish to his left and laid the ball into where the Jammers striker could cut inside and drill a low shot past Sargeant to stun the hosts and the home crowd.

It meant Maldon walked off ahead at half-time,while the O’s departed the pitch to the sound of booing from the home crowd who had seen their team outplayed by their non-league visitors.

Maldon knew they had to keep things tight at the start of the second half and they did under a strong examination from their hosts, who predictably came out strongly after the break.

The Jammers repelled everything thrown at them, including one particularly strong block from Quba Gordan to deny a dangerous cross.

Having seen off the threat, it was Maldon who doubled their lead with a second goal on 63 minutes.

It came from a breakaway by Jorome Slew, who showed great strength to get into the O’s box, hold off a challenge and then slide the ball under Sargent to send the away fans into renewed delight.

That immediate rush was short-lived as Orient went straight down the other end and got one back when James Dayton prodded the ball in from close-range.

It made things nervy again, but Maldon were still ahead and defending superbly to frustrate their League Two hosts.

Leyton Orient went close a couple of times, including one Josh Wright effort that McNamara saved a point-blank range with his foot as Maldon were now under the cosh.

Their task became greater with time running out when Parish went down under a challenge in the penalty area, but the referee saw it as a dive and showed him a yellow card.

As it was a second caution, the Jammers forward had to go and they were left to battle the closing stages with ten men.

Orient threw everything at their non-league opponents, but Maldon stood firm, including one goal-line clearance as they held firm to make sure they booked their place in the second round for one of the cup’s greatest -ever upsets.

Maldon & Tiptree: Ben McNamara, Stephane Ngamvoulou, Al-Amin Kazeem, Laste Dombaxe, Rob Girdlestone, Kojo Awotwi (William Cracknell,), Danny Parish, Quba Gordon (Lance Akins), Tyrique Hyde, Charlee Hughes, Jorome Slew (Sam Coombes). Subs not used: Hamza Kaid, Jake Brice-Wiffen, Luke O’Reilly.

Leyton Orient: Sam Sargeant, Sam Ling (James Alabi), Joe Widdowson, Josh Coulson, Craig Clay, Jordan Maguire-Drew, Dan Happe, James Broohy, Louis Dennis (James Dayton (Dale Gorman)), Matt Harold, Josh Wright. Subs not used: Dean Brill, Marvin Ekpiteta, George Marsh, Shadrach Ogie.

Referee: Charles Breakspear.