After the disappointment of Sunday's postponement, how better to get back into action than with a derby? Our matches with Altrincham might not be the fiercest, with less than 50 miles between the clubs, there'll be a terrific following support roaring Wrexham on.
There will, of course, be selection headaches for both managers ahead of the game as they hope their players can stay safe and make themselves available for the match. Wrexham's most recent game, an FA Trophy tie against Gloucester City, saw a number of players absent for a variety of reasons, and not even Phil Parkinson will know for sure whether the situation is better or worse until the hours before the match.
That 5-0 win illustrated the depth of the squad Parkinson has put together though, which could prove to be a godsend in these testing times. With 7 wins and just one loss from the last 9 games, there's a real need to press on and maintain momentum as a testing series of fixtures looms in January.
On the positive side, Kwame Thomas made a goal-scoring return from injury in the Gloucester match, and will hope to be involved at Altrincham in a fixture which saw him score twice last season.
Phil Parkinson ought to be happy after this match, one way or the other. Witth both managers sharing the same name, nothing's got to give!
Altrincham made an eye-catching signing last week when they signed Isaac Marriott from Bradford Park Avenue. Marriott has been impressive in midfield this season, despite Park Avenue's struggles at the wrong end of the National League North. He grabbed two goals in the FA Cup against Gateshead and followed that up with another brace against Halifax in the FA Trophy in his final appearance for Park AVenue, also scoring in the subsequent penalty shooot-out. Parkinson was certainly delighted to have landed his man, telling the Altrincham website:
'Isaac is a player I have been monitoring for 18 months, he was a player I was hoping to bring in next season. However, with a couple of departures and his excellent form this season for BPA, it forced my hand to move earlier than expected.'
'He’ll bring a high level of energy to the midfield, a box-to-box type midfielder. He has ambitions to play on the league and I’m sure we can help him achieve that as we have done with others in the past,' he added.
'He will definitely be a fans' favourite when he’s bedded in.'
However, they lost the services of Danny Whitehead, who was recalled from loan by his parent club Port Vale, and Marriott's debut on Boxing Day wasn't a happy experience. He came off the bench at Stockport on Boxing Day, but The Robins were already 4-1 down, and would end up on the wrong side of a 5-1 loss.
County were 3 up after 14 minutes and conceded 4 goals in the first half. The defeat continued a worring collapse in form for Parkinson's team. They started the campaign impressively, but have only won one league game since October 9th.
They've lost their ast 3 games, have one point from their last 15 at home and haven't kept a clean sheet in 15 games.
Still, Parkinson's positive reputation is no accident, and it's hard to envisage Altrincham getting drawn into the relegation scrap. They'll want to turn things round swiftly though, and a positive result in a derby would fit the bill perfectly.
HEAD TO HEAD
We’ve been vulnerable at home to Altrincham, but we’ve never lost a league game at Moss Lane, and have lost only once in 9 visits in all competitions.
The first clash between the clubs came in 1963, when we were drawn together for an F.A. Cup tie which would go down as one of the oddest encounters in our long history. The initial match was abandoned late on with Wrexham leading, despite having centre forward Ernie Phythian in goal and injured keeper Albert Dunlop limping around on the wing. The replay was a goalless draw, and Wrexham knocked Altrincham out with a 3-0 win in the replay with Micky Metcalf scoring twice.
The next time we played Altrincham was in August 2008. We fell behind in the 5th minute, but Jeff Louis equalised just before half time and we went home with a point.
Three months later we were back there again, for our first taste of the short-lived Setanta Shield. A mere 537 saw Marc Williams give us a deserved lead just after half time. Alty equalised soon afterwards though, and once again Louis was the hero, hitting the winner in extra time.
Even fewer fans were attracted to an FA Trophy First Round Replay at Moss Lane in December 2009: just 407 witnessed our only defeat at Altrincham, as we conceded from a set piece and lost 1-0.
We gained revenge the following month when Andy Mangan, Wes Baynes and Mark Jones scored in an emphatic 3-1 league win.
A goalless draw at Moss Lane on New Year’s Day the following season was our last meeting in four years as Altrincham dropped down into the National League North, and when they returned we enjoyed our biggest win there. Kieran Morris, Ross White and Louis Moult all scored in the first half as we secured the three points early on, and Connor Jennings added the icing on the cake as we won 4-1.
It was prove to be a last hurrah for Kevin Wilkin: two weeks later we lost to North Ferriby in the FA Trophy Final and the manager was dismissed. That victory at Altrincham would prove to be his last win as Wrexham’s boss.
In February 2016 a deflected Simon Heslop shot earned us a point, and there was then another hiatus – this time of 6 years – until we met Altrincham again last season. Kwame Thomas struck twice as we enjoyed a 2-1 win at Broadhurst Park, FC United’s ground, because there were problems with the Moss Lane pitch.
Kwame Thomas' 150th career appearance.
Aaron Hayden's 150th career league game.
Jordan Ponticelli's 75th career league appearance.
If no Wrexham player receives a yellow card, it'll be the first time we've had no player booked for 3 consecutive games since August 2018.