After a tough opening fixture, The Red Dragons are on the road again, and once more we'll face a team hoping to be involved in the promotion shake-up.
The opening day of the season was a memorable one, as Phil Parkinson's Wrexham showed their attacking threat in front of a full away end, coming within a couple of minutes of a deserved win at Solihull.
However, Wrexham' went into the game having to cope with defensive shortages, and the groin injury Reece Hall-Johnson picked up won't have helped matters. With 2 tough games in 3 days coming up, Parkinson might have to give the depth of his squad an early test.
Like Wrexham, Eastleigh missed out on a play-off spot on the last day of the 2020-21 season. Like Wrexham, they're looking to make sure they don't miss out again.
The Spitfires haven't kicked their season off yet, but carry into this game a run of consecutive home wins, each achieved with a clean sheet, from last season.
They've lost Joe Tomlinson, who scored all three goals against us last season, and Jack Payne to the Football League, but still boast a lot of depth in their squad, having brought in some interesting options in the centre of midfield and at wing back.
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16/3/21 Wrexham 2 (Hall-Johnson 45, Thomas 79) Eastleigh 2 (Partington 11, 50 (pen)
WREXHAM: C Dibble, J Reckord, T Vassell, F Kelleher (s/o 49), L Young, R Hall-Johnson, J Harris, E Durrell (J Davies, 75), M Carrington, K Thomas, D Angus (J Ponticelli, 66)
Subs not used: R Lainton, D Jarvis, T French
EASTLEIGH: J McDonnell, J Partington, J Tomlinson, P Bird (S Smart, 79), A Boyce, T Blair (M Green, 89), J Payne, D Hollands, A Bell-Baggie (D Smith, 72), B House, T Barnett
Subs not used: R Flitney, T Bearwish
Referee: Lewis Smith
Wrexham – Reckord,
Eastleigh – Partington, Tomlinson, Bird, Blair, Payne, Bell-Baggie
Wrexham – Kelleher (49)
HEAD TO HEADWe have an impressive record at Eastleigh, as we’re unbeaten in 7 games at the Silverlake Stadium.
We took the lead twice in our first visit, in March 2015, through Louis Moult and Neil Ashton. However, The Spitfires hit back with two equalisers, although there was an element of controversy about the second one, which came from a dubious free kick decision.
The next season we fell behind but Sean Newton equalised and we had a glorious opportunity to clinch all three points when we were awarded a late penalty. However, Connor Jennings missed the target and the game ended level.
Our next game at the Silverlake was the final game of the 2016-17 season, and in truth it wasn’t exactly played at full throttle. There was nothing at stake, but again we could have won as Jordan White put us ahead in the second half. However, Matt Tubbs equalised in the 73rd minute.
The Spitfires took their habit of late equalisers against us to new heights in April 2018. Scott Quigley’s penalty gave us the lead, and when Andrew Boyce was sent off half way through the second half, we looked certain to grab our first win at Eastleigh, but the ten men scrambled a remarkable 94th minute equaliser from a corner.
Equally remarkable was Boyce’s feat of getting sent off against us the following season as well. We were 2-0 up at that point, thanks to an own goal and a Manny Smith header, but soon after the red card Eastleigh threatened to make another 10-man fightback by pulling a goal back. However, a solo strike by Mike Fondop secured there would be no late slip-up this time.
We won there again the next season, gaining some small measure of revenge for our play-off defeat to The Spitfires the previous season. Dean Keates was in the process of improving the squad he had inherited, and his loan striker Omari Patrick was decisive, earning a 2-0 win with 2 first half goals.
Last season we had two controversial clashes with Eastleigh, and felt aggrieved to only emerge from those matches with a couple of points. The game at The Silverlake began cautiously but was changed in added time at the end of the first half, when Kwame Thomas scored a fine goal after Jordan Davies’ superb long pass to him.
Wrexham looked comfortable defending the lead, with Eastleigh only threatening from set pieces. However, it was from a corner that they would earn a point, although they would owe a great debt to the referee.
Christian Dibble made an excellent save, tipping the ball onto the woodwork, but as James Horsfield volleyed the loose ball off the line the referee made the astonishing decision to point to the spot, claiming Horsfield had endangered a stooping Eastleigh player despite not making contact with him!
The penalty was converted and Wrexham had to hang on for a point in the end after another controversial decision: debutant Tyler French was dismissed after confronting an Eastleigh player the Wrexham side felt had dived to win a free kick on the half way line.
Phil Parkinson's 675th league game as a manager.
Christian Dibble's 50th game for Wrexham.
Paul Mullin's next league goal will be his 75th.
Jake Hyde is 2 goals short of 100 league goals.