Maldon & Tiptree boss Wayne Bennett hailed a “fantastic achievement” by his side as the non-league minnows knocked League Two side Leyton Orient out of the FA Cup to reach the second round for the first time in their history, despite ending with 10 men.
Goals from Danny Parish and Jorome Slew either side of half-time put the eighth-tier side 2-0 up before James Dayton pulled one back for the O’s.
Jammers forward Parish was shown red with six minutes remaining, and the visitors had goalkeeper Ben McNamara to thank for two crucial saves in the closing stages.
“It was always going to be a tough game against League Two opposition and we knew we had to respect them,” Bennett told BBC Radio London.
“But we felt there was an opportunity for us to hurt them in certain ways. We probably only created six or seven really good opportunities, and we put two away.
“We put bodies on the line in the box, in the second half especially, to keep it down to 2-1 and you need a bit of luck in every game – but we earned the luck today.”
His Isthmian Division One North side began their FA Cup campaign in the preliminary round against Saffron Walden Town on 24 August and continued their run with an upset over a club 78 places above them in the league pyramid.
After Orient spurned several opportunities to take the lead, the visitors went ahead just before half-time after Charlee Hughes advanced forward and fed Parish, who sent a smart finish past Sam Sargeant before running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of over 600 travelling fans.
The hosts were caught on the counter-attack once again midway through the second half as Slew ran from the edge of his own box to fire into the bottom right-hand corner from just outside the Orient area.
“It is crazy when you can score in front of so many fans who have made the trip,” Slew said. “It was an unbelievable feeling and my heart was racing.”
Matt Harrold knocked down a long ball into the box to allow Dayton to lob Jammers keeper McNamara and halve the deficit two minutes later, and Maldon were reduced to 10 men when Parish received a second yellow card for simulation inside the Orient area.
McNamara pulled off crucial late saves from Harrold and James Alabi in the closing stages, with the ball being hacked off the line in the same incident as the Essex club hung on for the win.
Maldon & Tiptree have enjoyed a fine season and recorded their 20th win from 21 games in all competitions at the Breyer Group Stadium.
Orient, meanwhile, have now failed to win in five matches in all competitions under new boss Carl Fletcher and last reached the second round of the FA Cup in 2015-16.
“Any defeat is really tough but we know FA Cup games are always banana skins,” Fletcher told BBC Radio London.
“From a supporters’ point of view it is disappointing, and we are deeply gutted we went out in this kind of style.
“We know today is not good enough but credit to Maldon and congratulations to them.
“There is pressure in any kind of work you do. It is part of the job and you have to suck it up, get on with it and try to get better.”