Time for another Phil Parkinson derby, and Parkinson will hope to gain revenge on Parkinson for knocking his team out of the FA Trophy last month. Do you follow me?
For Wrexham, this match is sandwiched between two massive FA Cup ties with Sheffield United, yet as the league is undoubtedly the priority, this game is much more important than either clash with The Blades. The horrible opening ten minutes of last Sunday's game, which saw both Jordan Tunnicliffe and Aaron Hayden sucumb to injury, but new signing Eoghan O'Connell will hopefully be available for selection at Moss Lane.
Parkinson was quick to praise Max Cleworth and Tom O'Connor for their heroic efforts as the back line kept changing against Sheffield United, though, and clearly would have no qualms about starting with them in the back three.
“Tom...is a versatile player and he has done brilliantly for us wherever we have asked him to play. He is a class player, he has shown that....Max did great when he came on but we expect that from him. It is not a surprise: Max is a good player and we rate him highly.”
Altrincham were in rollicking form when they faced Parkinson's much-rotated side in the FA Trophy last month, and followed up their penalty shoot-out success with a 3-2 victory over Maidenhead United, which extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches. Things have not been so positive since, though, with defeats in both their subsequent matches, against Chesterfield and Boreham Wood, and an exodus of first team players.
Talented attacking player Ryan Colclough left just before our FA Trophy clash, and defender Ryan Mullarky signed for Rochdale as the transfer window closed, a cruel blow for The Robins as their vice captain has been an outstanding servant of the club.
Furthermore, key loan signings departed. Chris Conn-Clarke impressed against Wrexham with his attacking threat but he was withdrawn by his paretn club, Fleetwood Town, and immediately loaned out to Irish second tier club Waterford, who share ownership with the Lancashire club. Former Red Dragon Connor Jennings completed a move to Hartlepool United, and Elliot Newby had already been recalled by Stockport County.
The remarkable upheavl at the club over the last six weeks is put into clear context by the excellent Alty Files, which explained that "As of Thursday night, there were just ten of Altrincham's own (signed) outfield players likely to be available to play on Saturday (i.e. excluding injured players, loanees, reserves/academy players and club employees away on loan). The ten players in question have a total of just 148 starts and 11 goals between them."
That number is bolstered by a further 8 loanees, although all of them joined within the last 3 weeks as Alty underwent a remarkable mid-season transformation. Also, prolific FC United striker Regan Linney arrived on Friday on a permanent transfer, having scored 25 goals in 33 games this season.
There are some interesting names among the loan arrivals, although they are short of first team experience. Sonny Aljofree, Joe Hugill and Maxi Oyedele are all highly-rated Manchester United youngsters, whie Michael Gyasi will need no introduction to Wrexham fans after his hat trick in the phenomenal 6-5 win over Dover Athletic last season.
The changes on the pitch are fascinating, and off-pitch affairs are equally interesting. The game is a sell-out, with club record gate receipts guaranteed. Having turned professional in the Summer, the club is at an exciting point in its history.
LAST TIME WE MET
13/1/23 Altrincham 2 (Baines 9, Goodson 89) Wrexham 2 (Bickerstaff 24, 27) Altrincham win 4-3 on penalties.
Wrexham: Lainton , Hall-Johnson, Cleworth, Butler (James 85), Lennon, McAlinden, Dave Jones (Austin 77), James Jones , Cannon, Dalby, Bickerstaff Unused subs: Calderbank-Park , Dan Jones, Dan Davies, Milner, Cushion
Altrincham : Byrne , E.Jones, Marriott, Mullarkey, Baines, Lundstram, Hulme (Pringle 67), Conn-Clarke, James Jones, Dinanga (Jennings 75), Kaja (Goodson 58) Unused subs: Osborne, Gould, Jordan
Referee: Scott Tallis
Attendance: 2,526 (985 Wrexham fans)
WREXHAM'S RECORD AGAINST ALTRINCHAM
The rivalry between Wrexham and Altrincham goes back to 1963, and the circumstances of that first clash were somewhat remarkable.
Last season Aaron Hayden and Bryce Hosannah struck in a 2-0 win.
In the previous campaign, Kwame Thomas’s double secured a 2-1 win in a game played at FC United’s ground as the Moss Lane pitch was proving problematic.
Our biggest win at Altrincham came under Kevin Wilkin in 2015, as Kieran Morris, Connor Jennings, Ross White and Louis Moult struck in a 4-1 win.
Tom O'Connor's 125th career appearance.