Frannie Collin: FA Cup run is Maidstone's reward for fighting back

Ryman League outfit take on Wrexham in the second round on Saturday

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The Independent Football

Maidstone’s FA Cup second-round tie at Wrexham on Saturday is a reward for their long-suffering fans, claims Frannie Collin, the striker who got them through the first round.

The seventh-tier Ryman League outfit make the trip to the north Wales Conference club after beating League Two Stevenage 2-1 in a first-round replay thanks to two goals from Collin.

It is a dramatic rebirth for Maidstone. The former Football League club went bankrupt in 1992 and though a new club rose from the ashes it did not have a ground of its own until three years ago, when they returned to Maidstone at their new Gallagher Stadium home.

“This is a fantastic moment for all those who fought so hard to bring professional football back to Maidstone,” said Collin. “Now look at us, we are in the second round of the FA Cup. I don’t think many of us believed this could happen so soon, but it has.”

The Stones could welcome back their captain Steve Watt after a thigh injury as they tackle a side who are no strangers to Cup upsets themselves. Wrexham’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in 1992 is still regarded as one of the competition’s greatest giant-killings.

But Jay Saunders, the Maidstone manager, is reluctant to risk Watt with key league fixtures looming for a side who are second in the Ryman Premier Division. “I don’t know if he’ll go straight back into the side at the minute,” he said.

“We’ve got the league to think about as well and we’ve got a massive game against Leatherhead on Tuesday. If playing him at Wrexham means he ends up missing the next four league games, I wouldn’t take the chance. He knows how I feel about it but we’ll have to see.”

In other FA Cup games, Bury, who lifted the trophy twice in four years over a century ago, and 1959 finalists and four-time semi-finalists Luton do battle at Gigg Lane in one of three all-League Two clashes, along with Oxford’s Kassam Stadium game against Tranmere and Cambridge’s home tie with Mansfield.

Last season’s semi-finalists Sheffield United, will look to avoid becoming giant-killing victims when they host Plymouth, while Preston hope to avoid the same fate against Shrewsbury.

Saturday's fixtures also see a father and son in FA Cup action. Gary Johnson’s Yeovil make the trip to Accrington, while son Lee will watch his Oldham outfit tackle third-tier rivals Doncaster.

MK Dons, who have recorded home cup wins over the likes of AFC Wimbledon and Manchester United already this season, host Chesterfield on Saturday.