Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right

Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right

You get nothing for a pair, not in this game. If we draw a blank against Maidstone for a second time, the game will more than likely be up for this season’s FA Cup. Helpfully, we’ve moved on in that department since our first outing against the Stones.

It took the best part of three years and around 150 games, but the demolition of Cheltenham Town at the weekend was the first time Stevenage had racked up five goals in one game since we gave Rochdale a good old fashioned runaround in their own backyard in January 2012. It was as welcome as it was unexpected, not least because we seem to gone through an unenviable period in which five goals in five games was almost asking too much at times.

EDIT: We forgot the 6-1 win at Yeovil Town. How could we?!

But rather than bask in the glow of what at least one tabloid hack will have labelled a “five-star performance” for the sake of punting a cliche into your face, we’re going to break off and focus on our unfinished business with the FA Cup 1st Round and, by association, Maidstone United.

It’s a nice little earner to be on the box for this one, but we can only assume that BT Sport have opted to telecast this one in the hope they may get an upset and not because they were somehow blown away by the entertainment served up in the original tie. The main question that we’re all surely asking ahead of kick-off – apart from do we go with boots or Astros – is whether Boro’ will find themselves on the end of a wrong ‘un at the Des Gallagher Stadium?

We’ve gone back to 2008 for this one, because there are some striking similarities. G-Wezzle had just returned for his second spell as manager and universal adulation was some way off at the time. Horsham did little to help the cause, leaving the Lamex with a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup 4th Tinpot Round. It seemed reasonable to be concerned about the chances of a shock taking place in the replay, but it proved relatively straightforward in the end.

Now, we admit that Horsham had a spare patch of grass on which to host the replay and the circumstances are different in these halcyon times. But the point we think we’re trying to make – very tentatively and without any comeback on us if things go awry – is that G-Wezzle has tended to steer us away from the banana skins in these situations. And the appeal of a December trip to Wrexham is statistically the most popular holiday choice of 2014*.

* poll conducted 18th November 2014; sample size: 1 (and he was lying)

The bookies seem cautious at the moment. A home win and quite likely the most seismic footballing event to occur this Thursday evening, is a mere 18/5 (Bet 365) at time of writing. We’re 17/20 at best to win in 90 minutes, and 4/9 to get through by hook or crook. BetVictor’s 4/5 for Over 2.5 Goals seems a tempting little wager, with Maidstone United scoring in their last 13 home FA Cup games. That’s why Both Teams To Score is a meh-inducing 7/10 with BetVictor.

And with that, there’s little talking left to be done – not that it’ll stop the pundits on BT Sport wittering on about “The Magic of the Cup”… the winner gets to go to Wrexham after all.

Going to Maidstone? Here’s our helpful guide to what you need to know.