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09 April 2022 Venue Racecourse Ground Attendance

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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Eastleigh

Can Wrexham keep the pressure on at the top?

8 April 2022

With the goals flowing and the crowds continuing to swell, Phil Parkinson's message before a fifth home game in a row will be simple: same again please!

Wrexham's remarkable run of form continued on Tuesday with a spectacular 6-0 win over Barnet. It meant that for only the second time since joining the Football League in 1921, The Red Dragons had scored 6 goals in consecutive league games, and the strike partnership of Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer maintained its excellent record: they have started 10 games together, and in 5 of them, they both scored.

Eastleigh enjoyed a 2-0 win at Aldershot in a bizarre Hampshire derby on Saturday. Brennan Camp, on loan from Bournemouth, opened the scoring after Aldershot keeper Ethan Ross collided with a defender, and it appeared he'd suffered a serious spinal injury. Fortunately, it has transpired that he wasn't as badly hurt as first feared, but naturally great caution was taken in treating him on the pitch, and it was the best part of half an hour later when the game resumed.

In the fourth minute of added time at the end of the first period, Tyrone Barnett dinked a lovely finish over substitute goalkeeper Mitch Walker, and he ought to have added another with a close range header in the 66th minute of the first half!

The madness continued in the second half as the home side pushed for an equaliser. They were hampered when Walker had to go off injured too, and striker Mo Bettamer ended the game with gloves on. It was a welocme win for The Spitfires as it halted a grim run of 4 consecutive defeats. 

2022 hasn't been much fun for The Spitfires so far: they kicked the year off with a 3-2 home win against Weymouth, but then embarked on a horrible run of 3 draws and 8 defeats in 11 games which cost Ben Strevens his job.

Heavy defeats to promotion contenders Stockport and Halifax were understandable, but after a loss to Dover - their first win in 364 days - Strevens and the club decided to part company. The Spitfires' statement announcing the news was typically classy:

The Board would like to thank Ben for his commitment to the club as a player and during his three years and three months tenure as manager.

The club are grateful for the successes Ben has had as manager, guiding us to the play-offs in his first season as well as working under tight budgets to create an exciting recruitment strategy of young, hungry players that have developed here and progressed up the leagues.

Ben has also done a great job navigating the club through an extremely difficult period during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has helped the club to remain financially sound by managing on a budget and generating funds through player development and sales.

However, after holding meetings in light of recent results and performances, both parties have come to an agreement that a change is required to move forward as a football club.

As a Spitfires legend on and off the pitch, Ben will always be welcomed back to the club.”

Assistant Jason Bristow, who was sent off at The Racecourse last season for sparking a touchline brawl which also saw Dean Keates sent off, was appointed manager on an interim basis but couldn't turn things around, and Lee Bradbury came in, enjoying a 4-1 win over Wealdstone in his first match. 

The Spitfires next four games were all defeats though, with 12 goals conceded, and while relegation is not on the agenda, the win at Aldershot was still very welcome. It was The Spitfires' third away league win this season, but only the bottom two have lost more games or accumulated fewer points on the road than Eastleigh, while only Maidenhead have hit the net on fewer occasions. 

LAST TIME WE MET

Jake Hyde’s double was the difference between the sides when Wrexham visited Eastleigh on the second Saturday of the season.

HEAD TO HEAD

imageiays.pngimage4214u.pngimage4u1nd.pngWrexham's 2-0 win at The Silverlake Stadium extended our unbeaten run against The Spitfires to 5 games, but we’ve not tended to enjoy recent home games against them.

The most obvious disappointment was the 1-0 defeat after extra time in the 2019 play-offs. Bryan Hughes' side dominated the game, but couldn't find a way past inspired goalkeeper Luke Southwood, on loan from Reading.

He was finally beaten in added time, but the referee controversially ruled he had been fouled by Shaun Pearson. With 11 minutes to go before the game went to penalties, Danny Hollands slammed in a remarkable strike to end Wrexham's season in the cruellest of manners.

We drew our two subsequent home matches against them. Last season's clash was, like the earlier clash at The Silverlake which also ended in a draw, a very feisty affair.

We fell behind early on but Reece Hall-Johnson equalised in added time to send us in level at the break. However, after 48 minutes Fiacre Kelleher received a highly dubious second yellow card, and things went from bad to worse when a penalty was awarded to The Spitfires from the resulting free kick.

The spot kick was converted, but the 10-men treated the fans viewing on the live stream to a rousing fight back. Kwame Thomas equalised, Dean Keates and the Eastleigh assistant manager were sent off following a massive brawl involving players, subsitutes and coaches on the touchlline, and remarkably Wrexham were denied a last panalty after Jamie Reckord was pulled to the ground after bursting through the visitors'defence.

The previous season's goalless draw was a rather less thrilling affair, a the final game before the COVID-19 lockdown halted the season was badly affected by a strong wind.

Our most recent home win over Eastleigh was in December 2018. James Jennings opened the scoring in the 2nd minute, and Bobby Grant secured a comfortable win in the second half.

The previous season late goals from Shaun Pearson and Chris Holroyd secured a 2-1 win.

Our biggest win against The Spitfires came when the sides first met in September 2014. They were going well, but put up a surprisingly poor display after Eliott Durrell opened the scoring with a deflected shot - his first goal for us. Wes York doubled the lead before the game was half an hour old, and in the second half Andy Bishop rounded off a 3-0 win.

The following season was the exact opposite, as we crashed to our only home league defeat against Eastleigh.

The visitors dominated the first half, and deservedly led 2-0 at the break. However, Gary Mill's side fought back well and were level with 15 minutes left thanks to goals by York and Shaun Newton. However, Ben Strevens, who was The Spitfires manager until January this year, had a habit of tormenting Wrexham and he popped up with a late winner. Jamal Fyfield's last minute red card topped off a disappointing day.

POTENTIAL MILESTONES

20211218152853_IMG_0431.jpg

Jordan Ponticelli's 100th career appearance.

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Match Reports

REPORT | Wrexham AFC 3-2 Eastleigh

Paul Mullin’s stoppage-time penalty seals dramatic comeback win

9 April 2022

Wrexham came from behind twice before Paul Mullin’s late, late penalty sealed another dramatic late comeback win as the Red Dragons beat Eastleigh at the Racecourse.

Danny Whitehall’s clever flick gave Eastleigh the lead on 26 minutes, but Aaron Hayden headed in from Ben Tozer’s long throw to level almost immediately.

Whitehall scored again after the break, however, only for Mullin to head in an equaliser with 15 minutes remaining and – just as the draw seemed inevitable – he smashed in a dramatic late penalty after a foul on Reece Hall-Johnson.

Phil Parkinson named an unchanged eleven to the side that dispatched Barnet in midweek with six different goalscorers.

Jordan Davies had an early opportunity to put the red ahead as he whipped a freekick just wide of McDonell’s goal from a tight angle.

However, it was the visitors who struck first, as Whitehall managed to find some space at the front post to flick his backheel past Dibble on 26 minutes.

Two minutes later and Wrexham were level after Hayden’s towering header from Ben Tozer’s throw beat the Eastleigh defence and was too far out of reach for McDonnell.

The visitors had another golden opportunity to restore their lead as Whitehall broke into space in the box, but his shot was straight at Dibble who made a good save.

It was a quiet half for both sides but Wrexham came close to leading before the break as Young’s through ball headed goalbound but nobody in red could get a touch to put it in.

Wrexham avoided an early scare at the start of the second half, as Dibble’s loose clearance found its way to an Eastleigh shirt, but the goalkeeper recovered in time to palm it wide.

Davies had another opportunity from a free-kick 25 yards out from goal, but his shot sailed wide of the Eastleigh goal.

The Spitfires restored their lead in the 64th minute as Whitehall calmly finished into an almost empty net – after Dibble had initially made a great save to steer Barnett’s shot onto the pitch.

However, Mullin made it eight goals in his last eight appearances, as he jumped the highest to connect with Palmer’s cross to level the game once again.

Parkinson’s side had a flurry of chances after levelling the contest, but both Davies and Palmer put their efforts wide.

After an initial six minutes were added on and an Eastleigh injury extended that further, Mullin then sealed yet another dramatic late comeback win.

Hall-Johnson was brought down in the area, and the striker took responsibility to smash his penalty high into the net.

Wrexham – now unbeaten in 13 games – return to Vanarama National League action on Good Friday live on BT Sport when they take on Solihull Moors.

Wrexham (5-3-2): Dibble, Hall-Johnson, Hayden, Tozer,  Cleworth (Jarvis 65’ ), McFadzean ( Angus 89’), Young ©, Davies, J.Jones (McAlinden 71’), Mullin, Palmer

Subs not used: Camp, French.

Bookings: Jones 20, Hall-Johnson 49

Eastleigh (4-4-2): McDonnell, Camp, Boyce, Broadbent, Harper, Smart, Miley, Pritchard, Hesketh (Silva 40’), Whitehall (Smith 81), Barnett ©

Subs not used: Flitney, Kelly, Pitman 

Bookings:Harper 17, Broadbent 45, B. Camp 53, Miley 60

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