After what’s been an impressive November for the Bluebirds, Pete Wild’s men now head down to Maidstone in hope of securing a spot in the Third Round of the FA Cup.
The Bluebirds’ previous game against Walsall was a game to remember, which saw the Cumbrians outperform the Brummie side with a 2-0 victory. The game saw another goal from Ben Whitfield and the skipper Niall Canavan, who also got an assist.
The first half began with a high-intensity burst of energy from both sides. However, it was Barrow who struck first when Whitfield brought the ball down in the area before showing great technique to blast the ball into the back of the net. The first half ended with both sides accumulating multiple chances and showing quality, but it was the Bluebirds who went into break with the lead. The second half saw Walsall create more chances however, Wild’s men took control of the half and maintained possession throughout. The Bluebirds went on to score their second goal of the game in the 70th minute when Canavan finished from close range, after an assist from George Ray.
Pete Wild’s men continued their impressive home form, extending their winning run to seven games and remaining unbeaten at home in the league this season. The side has also gone unbeaten for a total of 11 games, making this an EFL record for the club.
After an emphatic win for the Bluebirds, they got through the game without sustaining any injuries, resulting in a near enough full squad for Wild to pick from.
Robbie Gotts, Tyrell Warren, and Junior Tiensia also remain out with their injuries.
Maidstone currently sit second in the National League South on 36 points, with just six points between them and first in the league. Even though they are not in an automatic spot, they are still in a playoff place, and they are starting to create a points gap between themselves and third place in the league. So, given they were relegated last season they will be aiming to gain promotion out of the division. When you look at the side's previous home games, they are unbeaten in their last five outings, accumulating thirteen points.
When you compare this to Barrow’s away form, they are also unbeaten in the last five fixtures, which includes their away trip to Northampton Town in the First Round of the FA Cup. So, taking all this into account both sides will be confident going into the game.
Taking a look at the opposition in more depth the key player Barrow should look out for is Levi Amantchi who is an attacking forward. So far this season, he has become top scorer for Maidstone and scored 19 goals for the side. In July 2023 he made the permanent switch to Maidstone, from National League North side Brackley Town. Another key player for the opposition is winger and striker Matt Rush. On the third of November 2023, Maidstone completed the transfer of Matt Rush, and he has since been a part of two matches, and on both occasions found himself on the scoresheet. Rush is a player who has extensive experience in League Two and the National League South.
In the previous six meetings between the two sides, Barrow has won three games and Maidstone have won the other three.
The last time the two sides met was back in the National League in the 2018/19 season, with the first game taking place down at Maidstone. United started the game strong and it showed when they had the first few chances of the game. The home side didn’t have to wait long to make the breakthrough when Shamir Mullings got on the end of a righted cross to score a header from close range. Ian Evatt’s side went on to create multiple chances in the game, however, they failed to capitalise on them, and the game ended 1-0 to Maidstone.
The reverse fixture was played back up at Holker Street and it saw the two sides meet midway through the season. Both sides created several chances early on, with Maidstone testing goalkeeper Joel Dixson in the Barrow net. Evatt’s men created a vast number of chances and had the opportunities to go ahead in the game, however, due to some superb saves in the Maidstone net from Ross Warner, the game remained level at 0-0. Heading into the second half Barrow was the side on top creating more chances, and the final piece of quality was what was preventing them from breaking the deadlock. The home side had to wait until the 62nd minute for the first goal of the game, which came from a shot Kemy Agustein from outside the box which was only parried by Worner. Tyler Smith reacted first and beat the Maidstone defenders to the ball and managed to stab the ball home from close range, beating goalkeeper Ross Worner. As the game progressed Maidstone’s next chance came when striker Elliott Romain beat the Barrow defence to be through on goal but was brought down outside the box by Rhys Norrington-Davies, who was then given a red card in the 84th minute and Barrow then forced to play the remainder of the game with ten men. However, the Bluebirds defended resolutely, and Evatt’s side secured the three points in front of the Cumbrian supporters.
The man in charge tomorrow is David Rock who typically referees League One and League Two fixtures. Rock has refereed us once since our return to the Football League back in March 2022 when Bristol Rovers defeated us 1-0 courtesy of a long range strike from Antony Evans.
Tomorrow he will be joined by James Vallance, Ryan Whittaker, and Harry Wager.
We have been allocated an initial 300 tickets for the match due to take place on Saturday the 2nd of December, and supporters can purchase them here. Please note that tickets will only be available online and will not be sold on the day.
There are two designated places for wheelchair users and carers. Maidstone can take the bookings for these here on 01622 753817. (Supporter pays the relevant admission fee and carer is admitted free of charge).
Tickets are priced at:
Concessions (65+/students)- £11.00
Youth (11-16)- £5.00
Juniors (under 11)- Free, with a paying adult (ticket must be added to the basket at the time of purchase)
* Online tickets are subject to a provider booking fee
Words by Dylan Whitbread