The return of fans to the Racecourse lived up to expectations, as new signing Ollie Palmer scored on debut to deliver all three points to Wrexham in a 1-0 victory against Grimsby Town.
A scramble in the Grimsby penalty area in the 35th minute, resulted in number 35 Palmer slotting the ball home before the new signing darted towards the home-again Wrexham fans to celebrate.
Chances engulfed the game and heroics from Rob Lainton were paramount in keeping the likes of John McAtee out and securing all three points.
The returns of fans to the Racecourse saw them greeted by record signing Palmer, who started immediately up front in place of Kwame Thomas.
Liam McAlinden has been seen as a versatile player under Phil Parkinson and this was seen tonight, as he filled in at left wing-back for the injured Bryce Hosannah.
Former Wrexham captain Shaun Pearson made his return to the Racecourse for the first time since leaving in the summer to a rapturous applause. Grimsby’s new signing, Arjun Raikhy, made the bench for the Mariners, after signing on loan from Aston Villa just days prior.
One win in five has seen the Lincolnshire side slip towards the bottom half of the table and a Wrexham win would see them fall nine points behind the Reds.
McAtee was the first player on show today to produce some magic, as he linked up with Tristan Abrahams in the fifth minute to burst past McAlinden and fire a shot at Lainton from a tight angle, but the goalkeeper stood tall and parried the ball out for a corner.
Wrexham’s first real chance only arrived in the 20th minute via the boot of Reece Hall-Johnson, whose pinpoint cross found McAlinden at the back-post. Wrexham’s wing-back choose to square the ball to the planted Jordan Davies, who couldn’t offer a sufficient shot on target under pressure from former Red Luke Waterfall.
Ben Tozer’s quick thinking with a 24th minute long-throw saw Aaron Hayden leap like a salmon through a pack of Mariners, but his header flopped agonisingly wide of Crocombe’s post.
After a discombobulated opening twenty minutes, Wrexham had really found their footing as they piled on the pressure courtesy of a Tozer in-step and shot on the edge of the box, but Crocombe gathered the ball well with 28 minutes on the clock.
Number 35 Ollie Palmer secured his first goal for Wrexham with 35 minutes on the clock. A melee in the box seeing Paul Mullin’s initial shot saved, allowed new signing Palmer to slot the ball home on his left foot before he tunnelled towards the WrexRent Stand in jubilation.
A tale of two halves inside one half. Having withstood some pressure from the Mariners, Palmer stood tall like a lighthouse to guide Wrexham into a 1-0 lead at half-time.
The Reds started the second half as they finished the first, summarised by Mullin picking the ball up in the box and bending a right-footed effort towards the far corner, forcing Crocombe to provide a spectacular leaping save in the 49th minute.
Hall Johnson surged forward in the 54th minute amidst a Wrexham counter-attack, as he faked in and out, before slicing an off-balanced effort over the bar to the growns of the free Mullin and James Jones in the middle.
Palmer appeared to be body checked just past the halfway line in the 55th minute by Grimsby’s last man Pearson, but the referee is unmoved to ferocious shouts engulfing the Racecourse for a red card.
Max Cleworth was found in the 63rd minute by a raking Jordan Davies cross, as the young defender flicked on his header towards Crocombe’s far-post, but it bounced and spun excruciatingly wide of the goal.
Lainton produced a block, dive, and claw of the ball without settling on his goal-line in the 67th, as he frantically kept Wrexham’s slender lead intact.
An injury to Jones in the 70th minute led to the introduction of Tyler French in the 77th minute, following a swerving McAtee free-kick ending up wide of Lainton’s post.
Lainton’s role in this game was paramount in securing the three points, as McAtee drilled an effort through a crowded penalty area requiring the Wrexham keeper to fling himself to the floor to keep McAtee out.
The Grimsby pressure was rising and intuitive dribbling from Davies would see the perfect opportunity to extend the Wrexham lead, as his enticing cross from inside the box was somehow skied by Cleworth one yard out with five minutes left to play.
Just before the stroke of the 90th minute, Mullin countered from a Grimsby corner. He twisted and turned Grimsby’s last defender inside and out before charging towards the Mariners’ net. He flung his right-foot at the ball from 20 yards out, but the ball skidded wide to overwhelming gasps from the Racecourse.
Full time was called, and although it was yet another game ending 1-0 at home, the returning Wrexham fans were treated to an absolute thriller, courtesy of Palmer’s debut goal.
Wrexham: 5-3-2: Lainton (GK), Hall-Johnson, Hayden, Tozer, Cleworth, McAlinden, Jones, Young ©, Davies, Mullin (Ponticelli 90+2’), Palmer (Thomas 83’)
Subs not used: Dibble (GK), Green, French
Grimsby Town: 4-3-3: Crocombe (GK), Smith, Pearson, Waterfall, Crookes, Fox (Raikhy 69’), Coke © (John-Lewis 90’), Sousa (Burgess 78’), McAtee, Abrahams, Taylor
Subs not used: Clifton, Wright
Referee: Scott Simpson
Wrexham Bookings: None
Grimsby Town Bookings: None