PREVIEW | "We want to go far in this competition"
Wealdstone begin their 2021/22 FA Trophy journey this weekend with the club's first ever visit to Suffolk-based Needham Market in the 3rd Round.
This is the furthest the hosts have gone in the competition and the Southern Premier Division Central side have been billing the game as the biggest in their history.
Despite the two-league difference, Stones boss Stuart Maynard will be treating this fixture and opposition the same he would any other National League side.
"They're a team that have really picked up in the last six weeks and we'll do the same due diligence on them as we do to every team, we had someone there watching their game against Barwell and I was due to go to their midweek game last week that got called off.
"We'll respect them but we will be going there to do a job. This is cup football now, performances don't matter, it's all about going there and getting a win."
The Stones have a real pedigree in the competition, winning it in 1985 at Wembley Stadium and by doing so becoming the first team to do the 'non-league double' of an FA Trophy and Alliance Premier League (now the National League) winning season.
Despite a decline in the 90s the Stones have had a real resurgence in the competition recently, getting to the semi-finals in 2012 under Gordon Bartlett and then again in 2018 under Bobby Wilkinson.
Maynard is keen to add his squad to the Wealdstone annals of history and believes the club have a good opportunity to do well in the competition this season.
"This is a competition that us as a management team want to go far in. It's a competition that realistically we can get to the final at Wembley and win it through being in the highest-ranked league in the competition."
The hosts enter the match as the form team with just one defeat in their last six, whilst the Stones are off the back of three straight defeats. The Marketmen have seen this FA Trophy run galvanise their season, although Maynard pushes more importance on winning matches than lengthy cup runs to boost the club's current form.
"Winning games of football breeds confidence. We've been on the back end of a few results that we shouldn't have lost. Everyone saw when we went our good patch of results that winning games breeds confidence in the team, that's what creates confidence, it's not going far in a competition, it is simply just winning games of football.
"We wan't to go there Saturday, get a little win and hopefully that can be the start of a run that we win more games of football."
Stones last match produced a narrow 1-0 defeat to promotion candidates FC Halifax Town, with Matty Warburton's first half penalty the only moment to decide a tightly-contested match.
Although Maynard was positive about the club's progression through the season by saying, "The frustrating thing about last week was that the lads had worked so hard again and it was a narrow, narrow loss to a team that's in the play-offs. It shows how far we've come from last season as we were getting thrashed by these sort of teams and not even teams as good as Halifax, too."
When asked if rotation was likely on Saturday, Maynard believes that his management team's hand is forced due to the number of injuries and suspensions in the squad and that the strongest team possible will take to the field this weekend.
We look forward to seeing all our supporters at Suffolk this weekend and tickets can be purchased for Saturday's 3pm kick off HERE.