George Elokobi and his wonderful Rolling Stones stopped outside Coventry.
It was there that their good fortune, or the magic of the FA Cup as it is also known, finally ran out. And it was there that they encountered a strong, talented team with a determined mood and a centre-forward like Ellis Simms in ruthless form.
Mark Robins and Coventry City fans have enjoyed their own romantic dalliances with this old trophy and the 1987 FA Cup winners will book their place in the quarter-finals for the first time in 15 years.
Maidstone United will return to the National League South. Next up is a trip to Dover, but they will cherish this campaign in the Kent County town for many years to come.
Under the careful co-ownership of Terry Casey and Oliver Ash, the £700,000 windfall will go a long way towards preserving the future of a club with a tempestuous past as it seeks a return to the EFL.
Ellis Simms scored a first-half hat-trick as Coventry City beat Maidstone United.
Sixth-tier Stones had a dream run in the FA Cup but were overtaken by their Championship rivals.
Those who traveled to cheer on George Elokobi’s team at the CBS Arena will tell their stories
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And those who traveled to cheer on the Elokobi team will tell their stories, perhaps embellish them as they blow the foam off their Shepherd Neame and remember the goals scored by Sam Corne and Lamar Reynolds and the saves by Lucas Covolan.
It all started at Steyning Town, located on the South Downs of West Sussex, in the second qualifying round in mid-September, and they dismissed Winchester, Torquay and Chesham before eliminating EFL rivals in the form of Barrow from League Two and Stevenage. of League One.
Then came the historic victory at Portman Road in January, which made them the first club outside the top five tiers to reach the last 16 since Blyth Spartans in 1978, the year Ipswich won the Cup.
Blyth lost in a replay against Wrexham but there are no more replays at this stage of the competition. In truth, Maidstone never looked likely to take Coventry to extra time, but their 4,500 fans refused to go out quietly.
They loudly backed their team until the end and Elokobi’s team responded.
With three goals at half-time thanks to a Simms hat-trick and threatening to disappear in a deluge, they held off a fourth goal until Fabio Tavares burst in in the 87th minute. Tavares added another in added time.
Five was tough but even that couldn’t dent Maidstone pride and in the end they were warmly applauded for their efforts.
It had been a step too far when Simms put Coventry in charge with three goals in 26 first-half minutes, all assisted by Kasey Palmer.
For the first, Palmer’s pass was collected by Simms, who directed his second touch past Covolan as he ran from his line. The goalscorer ran to the bench to hold up the number seven shirt of his teammate Tatsuhiro Sakamoto, who suffered a serious injury in Friday’s loss to Preston.
The second, almost a copy, with a Palmer pass passed through the center of the defense. This time, it demanded a more difficult shot, with Simms moving away from goal and cutting a low shot towards goal with his left foot.
Two up with just 14 minutes played, just the sort of powerful start Mark Robins would have hoped to see from his Championship team. Maidstone managed to hold on, take advantage of their luck and frustrate Ipswich by scoring a couple on the counter-attack. Suddenly, this had become a very different challenge.
Elokobi reorganized to three defenders. His team seemed a little more solid and he began to venture forward. Liam Sole took aim and fired a shot that went just wide from the edge of the area before Simms and Palmer combined again.
Covolan saved a Palmer shot and Simms grabbed the rebound, scoring his third of the night and a hat trick in 26 minutes.
Kasey Palmer picked up three early assists to help guide the hosts to the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Fabio Tavares broke in in the 87th minute and scored his second goal in added time.
Coventry were too good in each of the 95 places among teams in the English football pyramid.
Robins sent on Callum O’Hare at half-time and the tie was littered with substitutions in the second half.
The local team continued to dominate but slowed down a bit. After losing to Luton in the play-off final last year, they have their sights on the very real ambition of promotion as the Championship draws to a close and a home skirmish with West Bromwich Albion on Friday.
As for Maidstone, these are happier times for Coventry. They know Wembley well and are one win away from returning to Wembley. Perhaps the end of one football fairy tale can mark the beginning of another.