Wrexham will bid for their first win at Maidstone’s Gallagher Stadium when they travel to Kent for their National League match-up with the Stones on Saturday.
The Dragons have won two and drawn one of their five previous meetings with the modern incarnation of Maidstone United, but the record away from home is one draw and one defeat.
Wrexham also played the original Maidstone United – the current team was born from Maidstone Invicta, when the original United folded in the early 1990s – and earned three wins and two draws in six games.
Indeed, it was the original Maidstone United who visited the Racecourse for a classic case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ in January 1992 – a goalless draw just one week on from the shock FA Cup win against Arsenal.
More recently, the Stones were promoted to the National League in 2016 and were also Wrexham’s FA Cup second-round opponents in 2014 – the last time, prior to this season, the Dragons progressed that far.
We’ve taken a closer look at that FA Cup triumph and last season’s controversial away defeat for our pick of one game to remember and one to forget from the recent past.
Best of times: Wrexham 3-1 Maidstone United (06/12/2014)
Given the attention Wrexham’s FA Cup second-round tie with Newport is already generating, where better to start than the last venture into that stage of the competition?
The first ever meeting between the Dragons and the reformed Stones saw the two teams drawn to face each other in front of the television cameras in the second round.
With Maidstone a seventh-tier side at the time, the Dragons were favourites and got off to a perfect start when Manny Smith volleyed in after 19 minutes after an explosive start.
Mark Carrington, Connor Jennings and Wes York had already missed chances for the hosts, while Jon Flatt pulled off a smart double save as Maidstone counter-attacked at the other end.
Smith’s first Wrexham goal, after Neil Ashton’s vicious corner was parried into danger by Stones keeper Lee Worgan, settled the nerves though.
Chances at both ends continued in an open FA Cup match – Andy Bishop and York missing further chances before Jack Parkinson hit the woodwork for the visitors.
Wrexham doubled their lead on 57 minutes, however, when Carrington freed York in the area and Aaron Simpson’s last-man foul resulted in a red card and penalty, which Bishop despatched.
Despite the man advantage, there were still nervy moments for the hosts, however – even more so when Alex Flishler bundled home from a cross six minutes later.
Bishop sealed the win with three minutes remaining, however, beating Worgan to substitute James Pearson’s cross to make it 3-1 and book a place in the third round.
Wrexham, of course, went on to draw Stoke away – taking the lead against the Premier League side through Carrington before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat.
It means the 3-1 defeat of Maidstone was actually Wrexham’s last win in the FA Cup until this year’s fourth qualifying round replay against Harrogate, some four years later.
What they said – “I’m delighted to be in the next round but it was a fantastic tie and both sides played in the right spirit.” (Kevin Wilkin, Wrexham manager)
Wrexham – Flatt, White (Pearson 85), Smith, Hudson, Ashton, Carrington, Clarke, Harris (Durrell 90), Jennings, York (Moult 76), Bishop
Unused subs – Tomassen, Rushton, Gray, Hunt
Maidstone United – Worgan, Simpson, Miles, Coyle, Mills, Bodkin (Brown 78), Parkinson, Rogers, Flisher, May (Davies 60), Collin (Lovell 76)
Unused subs – Jordan, Greenhalgh, Kitt, Godmon
Worst of times: Maidstone United 2-1 Wrexham (19/08/2017)
Manny Smith scored his first Wrexham goal in that FA Cup win against Maidstone but his second spell with the Dragons includes less happy memories of this fixture after a controversial refereeing decision at the start of last season.
The Dragons went into the game on the back of two mid-week wins but had lost both Saturday afternoon matches at the start of the new campaign.
Dean Keates’ men were then hit by a further blow ahead of kick-off in Kent, when goalkeeper Chris Dunn got injured in the warm-up.
Nevertheless, Paul Rutherford crossed for Alex Reid to head in on ten minutes and the Dragons were in front with their first Saturday goal of the season.
It was not to last, however. In fact, it was just five minutes later when Jai Reason’s free-kick was head in by Alex Wynter and the hosts took control.
Joe Pigott’s free-kick from the edge of the area was blocked on 32 minutes, but Jack Richards’ rebound wrong-footed replacement keeper Christian Dibble in a crowd of players to put the Stones in front.
Worse was to follow for Wrexham too, when Smith brought Pigott down in the area with 20 minutes remaining.
Despite a genuine attempt to play the ball, and the introduction of the new ‘double jeopardy’ law, referee Sam Allison opted to send Smith off. The furious Wrexham reaction to the decision saw Mark Carrington follow him down the tunnel after receiving a second yellow card for dissent.
All this and there was still a penalty to face after a three-minute delay to the action – though Dibble redeemed himself for the earlier error with a fine one-handed save to deny Pigott.
Three further saves from the stand-in stopper kept Wrexham alive, but with nine men they could not force an equaliser at the other end.
While the decision may not have affected the ultimate outcome it certainly left a sour taste in the mouth – and the fact Smith’s red card was overturned on appeal only confirmed that he should not have been sent off.
Happier times were to follow, however, as Wrexham won on a Saturday for the first time in the season a week later and did not lose again for another two months.
What they said – “Wrexham imploded in the second half of their National League game at Maidstone United, going down to nine men and eventually losing by the odd goal after a crazy passage of play which saw Manny Smith and Mark Carrington sent-off.” (Wales Online)
Maidstone United – Worgan, Hare, Prestedge, Wynter, Okuonghae, Sam-Yorke (Paxman 84), Wraight, Anderson, Reason, Richards (Hines 52), Pigott
Unused subs –Twumasi, Willard, Phipps
Wrexham – Dibble, Roberts, Pearson, Smith, Jennings, Rutherford (Wright 59), Carrington, Wedgbury, Kelly (Hurst 74), Reid, Boden (Massanka 59)
Subs: Marx, Mackreth