Fancy raising yourself for a tough challenge just 5 days after an epic victory? We have no choice: we knocked Notts County off the top of the table, but now face a Barnet side looking to guarantee as advantageous a play-off spot as possible,
Last Monday's victory was one for the ages, but it'll count for nothing if we don't keep going and clinch the title. The task is clear: 7 point out of the remaining 12 will do the trick, but all our remaining oponents have something to play for.
Andy Cannon limped off on Monday, but it seems Phil Parkinson's side have emerged fairly unscathed from their massive exertions, and it will be hoped that Jordan Tunnicliffe has recovered from his back problem by Saturday.
Barnet have the fifth best home record in the division, and only the top four plus, interestingly, Dorking Wanderers, have scored more goals on their home patch. It'sa different story at the other end, as only 2 sides in the top 15 have conceded more at home. Finishing in the top 4 looks unlikely, so The Bees' objective over the next 4 games will be to defend their 5th position, which will guarantee them a home quarter-final play-off against the side that finishes one place beneath them.
Their recent form has been erratic. They haven't won in 5 matches, although to be fair, 4 of those were on the road. Their one home game during that period saw them draw 1-1 with Bromley last Friday, as a Michael Cheek strike after the break foiled their hopes of victory.
An FA Trophy run hasn't helped bring balance to their recent fixtures, and they've lacked continuity at home with only 4 of their last 12 games at The Hive. They only won one of them, against Yeovil in mid-March, but they showed their quality in their next game, taking a point off Notts County.
Monday brought a rather less satisfying draw, though, as they played out a 0-0 at already-relegated Maidstone United despite dominating throughout.
Barnet's success is striking after two very disappointing campaigns. Any unfortunate Bees fan who was present at The Racecourse for the 6-0 defeat they suffered last wouldn't have held much hope for the coming season. Their renaissance has been remarkable. Over the Summer the squad was torn up - only 9 remained from the previous campaign - and manager Dean Brennan started again. His wise investments have been well rewarded both on the pitch and off, as he recently signed a contract extension until 2026.
Among the Summer recruits was a phalanx of players who would prove to be vital to The Bees' improvement. Ben Wynter, Harry Pritchard, Moussa Diarra, Dale Gorman, Jerome Okimo and Laurie Walker have all been terrific, but Nicke Kabamba is the stand-out purchase. Signed from Northampton, and fresh from a disappointing loan spell at Woking, Kambamba has been terrific this season. Tall, strong and quick, he has been amongst the goals, and is currently the 4th top scorer in the division. However, he went off injured at York City at the start of the month and has missed Barnet's two subsequent games. He's expected to be ready to return on Saturday
Loanees Harry Smith and David Moyo, from Orient and Barrow respectively, have added further goal power and support for Kabamba. Smith has also been absent through injury. but is expected to be available for Saturday to continue a remarkable spell at The Hive: he has played in 10 games, scored in all but 3 and managed 8 in total.
Further good news for Brennan is that a spate of defensive injuries seems to be clearing up just in time for the final push: since a terrific run in January of 3 consecutive wins against strong opposition, all achieved without conceding a goal, defensive reshuffles have taken their toll with just 3 shut-outs achieved in the subsequent 19 games.
LAST TIME WE MET
8/10/22 Wrexham 7 (Hayden 9, 59, O'Connor 36, Mullin 37, 54 (pen), Young 57, Palmer 65) Barnet 5 (Kabamba 29, 76, Pritchard 31, Kanu 51, 84)
Wrexham Howard, Forde (Hosannah 74), Hayden, Tozer, Cleworth, McFadzean, Young, O’Connor, Lee (Jones 77), Palmer, Mullin (Dalby 88). Unused Subs: Watson and McAlinden
Bookings: Luke Young (38), Elliot Lee (44), Paul Mullin (86), Ollie Palmer (96)
Barnet Walker, Wynter, Collinge, Phillips, Okimo, Kanu, Gorman (Shields 67), Pritchard, Flanagan (Hall 56), De Havilland, Kabamba. Unused Subs: Azaze, Diarra, Woods
Bookings: Michael Phillips (53’) and Dale Gorman (55’)
HEAD TO HEAD
We’ve won our last 4 games against Barnet, equalling our best run of results against them, and the nature of those victories has been spectacular. We’ve scored 18 goals in those games, with 13 coming in the last 2 matches!
We’re unbeaten in an unprecedented 10 games against them too, yet our most recent clash illustrates why we shouldn’t anticipate an easy ride. The ludicrous 7-5 victory we enjoyed at The Racecourse last October was a display of our firepower, but also showed what Barnet have to offer.
Last season's trip to The Hive came straight after a demoralising run of results as we'd dropped 5 points to Stockport County and Chesterfield, then struggled past Marine in the FA Cup. We bounced back emphatically though: Aaron Hayden scored his first goal for us, and Paul Mullin opened up some daylight before the break. Our biggest away win against Barnet was secured when Shaun Brisley headed home what turned to be his only goal for Wrexham.
The previous season fine finishes by Elliott Durrell and Luke Young had earned Dean Keates' side three points.
The abandonment of the season due to the COVID outbreak meant we didn't visit The Hive in the 2019-20 season, but in April 2019 we enjoyed a bizarre late season victory as we pushed for as high a play-off spot as possible. A terrific following from Wrexham made up half the crowd, but there was no score at the break. In the first minute after the break the travelling hordes behind the goal went berserk as Akil Wright rose to plant a header home right in front of them, but when Barnet equalised with 20 minutes left, Wrexham seemed destined to be frustrated. However, in the 85th minute substitute Jermaine McGlashan chased a loose ball into the box and hit a shot which picked up a ridiculous amount of spin from a deflection and, after landing outside the line of the far post, ripped back in off the turf like an off break to register a remarkable winner.
Speaking of memorable winners, in September 2014 Robbie Evans scored a terrific goal to earn our first win at The Hive - we'd won once in 6 games at their previous home, Underhill. Barnet won the league that year, but we managed the double over them as the only goal when we met at The Racecourse was another Evans cracker. As he scored 7 in 120 games for us, Barnet must consider themselves unfortunate to come out on the wrong side of him twice!
Our first match The Hive was a remarkable affair. In October 2013, Stephen Wright and Edgar Davids were both sent off after an elbow into the Wrexham defender's face by the Bees' manager which left him needing stitches. Wrexham fell behind but equalised through a superb last gasp Dean Keates free kick, and there was still time for Johnny Hunt to receive a red card for a horrible lunge.
Luke Young's 475th career appearance and 225th Wrexham appearance.
Andy Cannon's 250th career match.
Ollie Palmer’s 75th game for Wrexham.