We bring you everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s opening game of the National League season at Maidstone United.
Maidstone United v Pools
Saturday 4th August 2018, 3pm
The Gallagher Stadium
Faith has been the key word at Maidstone United in recent times.
The Stones endured a tricky run of form to say the least last term when they went 17 National League games without a win from Christmas onwards – a run which saw them hurtle towards the drop zone.
However, they stood by boss Jay Saunders and were rewarded when he not only led them to safety but then also repaid their faith by turning down overtures from Macclesfield Town during the summer.
Instead, Saunders – who admitted that the winless run was his “most difficult time” – has set about rebuilding the squad at The Gallagher Stadium as they look to move forward during 2018/19.
Like Pools, Maidstone have been very active in the transfer market since the end of last season and that will give their supporters plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of the big kick-off.
Stuart Lewis missed only five National League games last season and he looks certain to be a key player for The Stones once again during 2018/19.
A former Spurs trainee, Lewis joined The Stones on loan from Ebbsfleet United in January 2017 and his form saw him crowned Supporters’ Player of the Year for 2016/17 before signing a permanent deal.
Now wearing the captain’s armband at The Gallagher Stadium, the 30-year-old turned down a lucrative offer to move on during the summer in favour of penning a new one-year deal in Kent.
Head To Head
Saturday’s game will be only the third time the two teams have met in competitive action – the first two occasions were last season when Pools completed a National League double over The Stones.
Keith Watson, Jonathan Franks and Connor Simpson all netted in a 3-1 triumph at The Vic in September before Michael Woods' Good Friday double earned Pools a 2-1 success at The Gallagher Stadium in March.
Friday 30th March 2018
Maidstone United 1 (Lafayette 90) Pools 2 (Woods 25, pen 89)
Maidstone United: Worgan, Hare, Finney, Wynter, Anderson, De Havilland (Paxman 84), Lewis, Reason, Turgott (Loza 78), Lafayette, Luer (Sam-Yorke 65).
Subs not used: Ofori-Twumasi, Phillips.
Pools: Loach, Magnay, Adams, Laing, Featherstone, Woods, Hawkes, Hawkins, Newton, Cassidy, Oates (Rodney 65).
Subs not used: Catterick, Owen, Orrell, Munns.
Alan Dale will take charge of his first-ever Pools game this weekend when he’s the man in the middle for our visit to Maidstone United.
Now in to his second season on the National League list of referees, Dale twice officiated Stones games last term – watching them beat Woking and AFC Fylde on home soil.
In total he was on the whistle for 18 National League fixtures during 2017/18, producing 59 yellow cards and two red cards during those games.
We’re putting Mark Simpson behind the microphone for away games again this season so you can join him on Pools PlayerHD from 2.50pm for full live commentary from The Gallagher Stadium.
Pools fans will be able to buy their tickets on the day prior to kick-off at The Gallagher Stadium; we’ve been allocated an area of the Genco Stand which can accommodate up to 600 supporters.
Maidstone United have been installed as slight 7/5 favourites for the three points, while you can back Pools at 13/8 with Sky Bet who have the draw priced up at 5/2.