Last Saturday's win over Southend wasn't the most fluent of the season, but it was a massive victory. Coming hot on the heels of the superb 4-0 win at Dagenham, it showed that Phil Parkinson has assembled a team which can turn on the style or dig in to claim the points, depending on the circumstances.
Spirit and desire will certainly be required for this test, as Bromley are formidable opponents. Parkinson is seeing his injury problems begin to ease, though, as a number of injured players are approaching a return to fitness. Furthermore, after 7 straight weeks of playing midweek, Parkinson has finally had 6 days to prepare for this fixture.
A trip to Bromley is not an easy one: if you don't believe me, look at our record at Hayes Lane; and if you want more evidence, consider the hard time they gave Notts County a fortnight ago. It took an injury time goal from Macaulay Langstaff to rescue a point for our title rivals, and Bromley will be keen to be party-poopers again.
In truth, their recent form has been a little erratic: after losing to us in January they embarked upon a 7-game unbeaten run, but their last 5 matches have yielded 5 points with the fine performance against The Magpies counter-balanced by 2 defeats.
Their most recent loss was something of a shock as York City triumphed 3-0 at Hayes Lane. To be fair, there were extenuating circumstances to explain the surprising scoreline, as the match turned in added time at the end of the first half. Goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook conceded a penalty and was sent off for the offence; with no substitute keeper on the bench, left back Besart Topalloj was forced to go in goal for the remainder of the match, explaining the emphatic final result. The postponement of Tuesday's game at Halifax means Charles-Cook's suspension will carry over to our clash on Saturday.
That was only their third home defeat of the season, though: only Notts County and we have lost fewer. However, they've drawn 9 matches at home, which is comfortably the most in the division, and have therefore spent the season hovering on the fringes of the play-off spots.
Recent ventures into the loan market have bolstered their line-up. Ryan Stirk arrived from Birmingham and his impressive early form earned him the club's player of the month award. Deji Elerewe, a loan signing from Charlton Athletic, also looks to be an interesting addition to the squad.
A January signing brought The Ravens national attention when they signed Mitchel Bergkamp, the son of Arsenal legend Dennis. who has previously been in the Watford set-up.
Bromley manager Andy Woodman was goalkeepeing coach at Arsenal when Bergkamp was a triallist there, and saw enough to make him want to bring him in:
"I know his qualities,” he told the South London Express,“I can assure everybody that it’s definitely no publicity stunt. He's got to get into the team. Nobody has got a given position at this football club. Mitchel understands that. I put the challenge to him: ‘Do you want to come and be a part of something until the end of the season?’
“He didn’t bat an eyelid. He is a really grounded young man, and he doesn’t have an ego – there is no other side to him other than someone who loves football and wants to be the best.
“He has been good around the group, and that’s really important. Whoever we bring into our club then they not only need to be a good footballer, they also have to be a character.
“He certainly ticks all those boxes. It’s brilliant to have him onboard. I’m looking forward to getting him match fit and getting him ready to make his debut at some point soon.”
“We want to keep pushing this group of players. Because we haven’t got many resources, we can’t afford to get signings wrong or have a huge squad. If we get a few injuries, it can knock us, but the boys have dug deep all season. We’re at an important part of the season now – we have to keep going.”
- Andy Woodman, Bromley manager
Woodman has concluded a number of important deals in recent weeks, tying key players down with contract extensions. Skipper Byron Webster has committed himself to the club, as has Jude Arthurs. Crucially, the talismanic Michael Cheek has also agreed to extend his prolific stay at Hayes Lane.
“Michael has been a really important figure at this football club,” Woodman explained to the South London Express..
“It’s easy to argue what some players can’t do, but Michael Cheek does the most important thing players need to do at the top of the pitch, which is putting the ball in the net. “The real art now is to try and to keep improving his game, working on his game, and keep him scoring.
“Myself, the fans and everybody associated with the club are delighted he has committed himself to stay. Now we have to make sure we keep maximising Michael Cheek and making him better every day for what we’re trying to achieve.”
There's bound to be a terrific atmosphere as, apart from the usual travelling army, Bromley have been pushing home fans to attend. Their campaign, #PackTheLane, aims to set a club record for the largest National League attendance at Hayes Lane, and tickets have been selling swiftly.
LAST TIME WE MET
10/01/2023 WREXHAM 2 (Mullin (pen) 44, Jones 73) BROMLEY 1 (Whiteley 33)
Wrexham: Howard, Forde, Hayden, Tozer, Tunnicliffe (Dalby 71’), McFadzean, O’Connor (J.Jones 71’), Young (C), Lee, Mullin (McAlinden 90’), Palmer
Subs not used: LaintoN, Cleworth
Bromley: Charles-Cook, Reynolds, Sowunmi, Coleman, Cheek, Dennis (Krauhuas 76’), Webster (C), Whitely, Arthurs, Topalloj, Fisher (Forster 76’)
Subs not used: Smith, Vennings, Alexander
Referee: Lewis Smith
Attendance: 9,807 (32)
Wrexham Bookings: Callum McFadzean 90 (foul)
Bromley Bookings: Kellen Fisher 4’ (foul), Byron Webster 22’ (foul)
HEAD TO HEAD
We've only won once at Bromley, although it was a memorable victory. It came in February 2020, as Dean Keates was remodelling an inherited squad which has plummetted into danger of relegation. Two of the players he'd drafted in would score the goals in a terrific performance against a strong Bromley side.
Davis Keillor-Dunn scored after Wrexham had started in terrific manner, threatening to take the lead on a number of occasions in the opening ten minutes. His twelfth minute strike was magnificent, as he dribbled sdroitly through the heart of the home defence before finishing accurately.
Although Wrexham were on top throughout, they held that slender lead until the latter stages of the match, when a Bromley set piece broke down and the visitors broke on them decisively. Jordan Ponticelli tore up the pitch and ended his run with a lovely finish, curling the ball around the golkeeper from the edge of the box to secure the points.
Our last two games at Hayes Lane were dominated by the injuries suffered by Rob Lainton, of course.Two seasons ago he sustained a horrific head injury which came about completely by accident. James Alabi raced onto a through ball but was beaten to it by a brave lunge from Lainton, who typically dived at the striker's feet. Alabi couldn't get out of the way in time and his foot struck Lainton's head, leading to an agonising delay as he received medical attention.
The game eventually resumed under a cloud, with Christian Dibble having replaced his stricken team mate, He had no chance with a fine Michael Cheek strike which came ten minutes into first half added time, but kept Bromley at bay with a series of fine saves. Wrexham would cash in on his stout defence of his goal in the 77th minute when Adi Yussuf converted a terrific Paul Rutherford cross.
Thankfully, Lainton was able to make a swift recovery from that injury, and was back in action 2 games later. However, lightning was to strike a second time the following season, and an injury which initially appeared to be more innocuous would have far longer-lasting repercussion.
Lainton broke his wrist completing a magnificent double save, as Ali Al-Hammadi crashed into him. Once again, Dibble came on to replace him, and he had a quieter time of it this time as the game petered out into a goalless draw. However, it soon became apparent that Lainton's season was over, and he would spend 9 months on the sidelines before returning for an FA Trophy tie in December, and a further 2 months before making another league appearance.
In January 2019 we suffered a 2-0 midweek loss at Bromley, which comleted a sequence of 3 defeats in our first 4 trips to Hayes Lane.
The season before we'd earned our first point there, taking the lead through James Jennings in the 51st minute. However, a penalty 14 minutes later ensured the game ended in a draw and denied caretaker manager Andy Davies a first away win.
In April 2017 we lost 4-3 at Bromley in a peculiar game. The weather was certainly unusual for a National League game as a heatwave gripped the country, and Dean Keates' defensive options, already diminished by injuries, were further reduced when Olly Marx went off with sunstroke! Our streak of misfortune meant we ended the game with an unlikely back three of Russell Penn, Mark Carrington and Martin Riley.
The game itself had the air of an end-of-season game between sides with nothing to play for, as careless defending led to a glut of goals. An excellent performance by Tobi Sho-Silva earned him two goals as The Whites led 3-0 just after the break, but Wrexham struck back immediately. Jordan White narrowed the deficit to 2 goals, and Keates celebrated his strike by introducing Ntumba Massanka, who scored himself 4 minutes later!
With 7 minutes left, Blair Turgott made it 4-2, but Massanka struck again 3 minutes later to set up a dramatic conclusion to a crazy game.
Our first game at Bromley, in August 2015, was also their first match in the 5th tier. It was aso Gary Mills' first match in charge, and it started perfectly as Wes York gave us the lead, but we capitulated spectacularly and ended up losing 3-1.
Elliot Lee's 225th league appearance.
Jordan Davies' 100th Wrexham league appearance.
James Jones' 75th Wrexham league appearance.
Max Cleworth's 50th Wrexham league appearance.