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Maidstone Preview

By sam surbey

Match Preview Steve Barton writes ...

The current club filled the void left by the old Maidstone United, which was a member of the Football League between 1989 and 1992. That club was forced out of the league through bankruptcy, but the nucleus of a new club was built around the youth squad. Maidstone Invicta were originally a youth team but made the step up to adult football in 1992 being elected to the Kent County League Fourth Division in 1993 and subsequently progressed through the non-league pyramid. They changed their name to Maidstone United in 1995. After winning the Kent County League Premier Division in 2000/01 they were promoted to the Kent League. They continued their upward progress with promotions from the Kent League (2005/06), Isthmian League Division One South (2006/07) but were then relegated from the Isthmian League Premier Division (2010/11). They moved into the Gallagher Stadium at the start of the 2012/13 season and won promotion from the Isthmian League Division One South. Further promotions followed from the Isthmian Premier (2014/15) and the National League South (2015/16).

Their third season in the National in 2018/19, and having sacked both manager Jay Saunders (now at Margate) in September 2018 and his replacement Harry Wheeler less than four months later, saw the Stones finish bottom, 18 points from safety, and they were relegated back to the National South. In January 2019 John Still had been appointed as the new manager - 30 years after leading them to the Football League. Still managed three wins and five draws from 20 matches by the end of last season but did lift the Kent Senior Cup beating Bromley 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Herne Bay’s first season in the Isthmian League Division One South was Maidstone’s last as the Stones finished second and on the first day of December 2012, in front of 1,721 at the Gallagher Maidstone won 2-0. A season’s best crowd of 439 were at Winch’s Field for the return in February 2013 and Bay took the lead when Byron Walker buried a penalty halfway through the first period. However, the second half was a different matter and Maidstone scored three times. The clubs met again in the Isthmian League Cup 1st Round in October 2013 in Maidstone (attendance 808) when the Stones won 2-1 and thirteen months later, this time in the 2nd Round, again at the Gallagher in front of 417 Maidstone won 6-0.

Their squad re-building programme began towards the end of last season and included the signing of Herne Bay’s top Isthmian League goalscorer Jake Embery in February. Recent incomings include Sam Corne (Ashford United), Luke Pennell (Dagenham & Redbridge), Jonathan Edwards (FC Halifax Town), George Elokobi (Aldershot Town), Gavin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge) and Noah Chesmain (Colchester United).

BetVictor odds for the National League South title for the 2019/20 Season show Maidstone United 8/1 third favourites behind Havant & Waterlooville 6/1 & Billericay Town 7/1.

Updated 22:34 - 1 Jul 2019 by sam surbey

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