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Coventry City
FA Cup | Fifth Round
Feb 26, 2024 at 7.45pm UK
The Coventry Building Society Arena
Maidstone United

5 - 0

Simms (9', 14', 35'), Tavares (88', 90+2')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Ellis Simms nets hat-trick as Coventry City end Maidstone United's fairytale FA Cup run

Simms nets hat-trick as Coventry end Maidstone's fairytale FA Cup run
© Reuters
Ellis Simms nets a first-half hat-trick as Coventry City cruise to a 5-0 win over non-league Maidstone United in the FA Cup fifth round.

Coventry City have progressed into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 15 years after beating non-league Maidstone United 5-0 in a fifth-round tie at the CBS Arena on Monday night.

Maidstone were eyeing up another giant-killing having previously seen off EFL trio Barrow, Stevenage Borough and Ipswich Town, but the National League South side were outclassed by Championship club Coventry despite their valiant efforts to compete with a side sitting 95 places above them in the English football pyramid.

Ellis Simms stole the headlines as he netted a 34-minute hat-trick, the first of his senior career, to put Mark Robins's side firmly in control, before Fabio Tavares netted a late second-half brace to help the Sky Blues secure their spot in Wednesday's quarter-final draw.

Simms had no luck in front of goal last weekend as Coventry suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Preston North End in the Championship, but the former Everton striker – one of five players who retained his place in Robins's starting lineup – was at his prolific best in the opening exchanges against George Elokobi's Maidstone.

Shortly after Lucas Covolan had denied Haji Wright from around 10 yards out with an instinctive right-handed save, the visitors suffered a crushing early blow as they conceded an eighth-minute opener from their own making.

Coventry City's Ellis Simms scores their first goal on February 26, 2024© Reuters

Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong's misplaced pass in the centre of the pitch was picked up by Kasey Palmer, and his perfectly-weighted through-ball rolled in between the visitors' two central defenders, including George Fowler who slipped at a crucial moment, allowing Simms to take a touch and slot a side-footed finish beyond Covolan.

Palmer and Simms combined again just five minutes later to double Coventry's advantage, with the former rolling another superb through-ball beyond Maidstone's backline to meet the forward run of the latter, who stroked a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Maidstone, who continued to press high despite going two goals down, responded with two shots on goal from Liam Sole and Manny Duku, but neither strike gave Coventry goalkeeper Ben Wilson a real test between the sticks.

Simms then completed his hat-trick on the 34-minute mark - the first treble by a Coventry player in the FA Cup since Darren Huckerby back in 1999 - when he pounced on a loose ball to smash home a side-footed finish from just a few yards out after Covolan had parried a 30-yard half-volley from Palmer.

Maidstone's hopes of a miraculous comeback were made all the more difficult when Coventry boss Robins decided to bring on star midfielder Callum O'Hare for the second half; the 25-year-old came close to adding a fourth for the hosts just a few minutes after the interval, but his snapshot from inside the box flew straight into the gloves of Covolan.

Maidstone United players react after conceding their second goal on February 26, 2024© Reuters

Lamar Reynolds momentarily had the 5,000 travelling Maidstone fans on the edge of their seats when he burst into Coventry's box on the left channel, but he could only lash his effort into the side netting from a tight angle.

Coventry duo Simms and Palmer were withdrawn just after the hour mark, but the hosts continued to pose a threat in the final third and eventually put the game to bed two minutes from time when substitute Matt Godden played a defence-splitting pass through to Tavares, who lifted a left-footed finish over Covolan.

Tavares then netted his second of the night and third goal of his Coventry career in the first minute of stoppage time when he capitalised on Covolan spilling a shot from Godden to tap home a simple finish from close range.

Despite defeat, Elokobi's side received a rapturous applause from the Maidstone supporters after the full-time whistle, and the memories created during an impressive FA Cup run will last a lifetime for the Kent-based club, who return to National League South action against Dover on Saturday.

As for Coventry, they will look to boost their Championship playoff hopes when they travel to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion on Friday.

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