Tuesday's controversial defeat ended a run which saw Wrexham scale the table, and Phil Parkinson's side now needs to regain the winning habit against bottom team Dover Athletic.
As things stand, Liam MacAlinden will be unavailable as he starts a three-match ban, and with Dan Jarvis also injured, Wrexham may have to abandon the more attacking midfield set-up of the last two matches. The players selected to play off the strikers have certainly suffered an unhappy week: Jarvis lasted 8 minutes and McAlinden was dismissed after 35.
Dover have suffered a horribe start to the season. By not fulfilling their fixtures last season they picked up a 12-point penalty which made their relegation virtually inevitable in this campaign.
Their form on the pitch hasn't implied they might be able to upset the odds. With no wins and 4 draws from 17 league games. In the context of the top 6 tiers of English football they are, along with Newcastle United, the only side without a win, have won fewer points than any other side, and have conceded more goals. In the FA Cup they drew at home to Yate Town and lost the replay.
Having lost their last 6 home league games and not won since January 26th, things look grim. However, they showed they can surprise sides at the happier end of the table with an admirable away draw against Yeovil Town last Saturday, and we can testify to their qualities after last Tuesday.
HEAD TO HEAD
The trip to Dover is long and arduous, and we don’t tend to return with much to show for it. Not that our home form against Athletic is any better!
We’ve played them 11 times and have beaten them just once, managing just 5 goals in the process.
Of course, those statistics would look a lot better if last season’s fixture between the two sides had been allowed to stand, as we beat them 3-1 at The Racecourse, but Dover’s withdrawal from their fixtures meant the game was expunged from the records.
Our sole win over Dover came on the opening day of the 2018-19 season. Mike Fondop scored the only goal of the game with a peculiar overhead flick from a near-horizontal position which was either magnificent improvisation or a huge slice of luck, depending on your view point. Victory was secured when fellow debutant Rob Lainton saved a penalty in timed added on at the end of the first half.
That remains the only time we’ve kept a clean sheet in six visits to the most distant domestic opponents in our history. We did emerge with a point in February 2017, though, although it came about in rather fortuitous circumstances.
We were trailing 1-0 with ten minutes left when a deflection in the goalmouth hit Jordan White on the backside and ricocheted into the net to earn us a draw!
With last season’s match with Dover stricken from the records, and our home fixture from the season before unfulfilled because the season was suspended, our most recent clash with Athletic came at The Crabble in August 2019.
Mark Harris gave us a first half lead, but shortly before the break we were dealt a fatal blow when Bobby Grant was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident. Despite the heroics of Christian Dibble, we were unable to hold Dover off in the second half, conceding an equaliser with 18 minutes left before Shaun Pearson’s last minute own goal handed the home side a 2-1 win.
Our trip to Dover on the second Saturday of 2017-18 season saw us smothered by Athletic’s man-to-man marking. A drab affair was settled by an 18th minute goal, after Scott Boden had missed a couple of close range chances.
Our first two games at The Crabble ended in defeat. Our first match was a 2-0 defeat in which we were clearly second best, but the following October Connor Jennings gave us hope by scoring a first half penalty.
However, Gary Mills’ experimental side, with 3 at the back and 3 players brought into the side despite having just one start between them in the season so far, ended up losing 2-1.
Funnily enough, that was the most recent occasion before last Tuesday that we had a player sent off in a league game and subsequently conceded more goals than we scored playing with ten men. Since then, eight Wrexham players had been dismissed, and in each of those games the outcome either remained the same or improved for us!