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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wealdstone vs Wrexham

Can we protect our place at the head of the table?

11 November 2022

Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wealdstone vs Wrexham

Can we protect our place at the head of the table?

11 November 2022

Wrexham's impressive 3-1 win at Scunthorpe on Wednesday sent us top of the table, and also showed that we can replicate our fluent home form on the road.

The win didn't just improve our league position: it also provided a pleasing continuation of our excellent form in the block of four home games which preceded it. Away form has not been consistent so far this season, but the confidence with which Phil Parkinson's side took control at Glanford Park was reminiscent of the Red Dragons' best home performances.

Of course, there's no time to rest on your laurels in football, and Parkinson will be quick to warn his players that they'll have to maintain those standards to meet the difficult challenge of a trip to Wealdstone. The match at Grosvenor Vale takes place on Saturday November 12, and kicks off at 3pm.

Wealdstone are hoping to enjoy the biggest crowd in Grosvenor Vale's history, with more than 2,000 tickets already sold: the figure to beat stands at 2,669.

They suffered a horrible October, losing five games in a row, including a 6-1 home beating from Notts County, but they stopped the rot in their last match with a 1-0 win at Altrincham.

With eight goals scored in eight home games, only Yeovil have scored fewer on their own patch in the National League. A waterlogged pitch stopped them from adding to that total on Wednesday against Chesterfield.

First-team coach Craig Saunders was delighted with the result at Altrincham, especially as his side ended their recent habit of conceding first and having to adjust their plans.

"We've given away goals too early in games, so we haven't had a chance to implement our game plan and be effective," he explained to Wealdstone's club website. "You end up chasing the game and then gaps appear and the games become difficult."

He certainly has a point, as in four of those five losses The Stones were behind by the 25th minute: in two of those games they were behind by more by then.

The win at Altrincham, earned through a 47th-minute Olufela Olomola strike, certainly came at the right time, then, as The Stones showed grit and heart to hold the home team at bay, surviving some spells of intense pressure. Left back Lewis Kinsella made just his third start of the campaign in that match and told the club website that he was heartened by the team's resilience:

"I said to the boys in the changing room that when I was at Aldershot, and we went on a bad run, we needed to get back to basics," he told the Wealdstone club website.

"The boys did that today and were excellent. It wasn't the prettiest performance but we've come away with three points and the clean sheet.

"I think a clean sheet was the most important. Altrincham play good football ... and we were just shuffling, staying as a block and making it hard for them to break us down."

Kinsella, an impressive Summer signing whose season has been disrupted by injury and suspension so far, is clearly relishing the opportunity to get involved again, and is excited by the prospect of facing the league leaders.

"These are the sort of games that I live for: the tough games.

"That's what I'm about. I want to play in the big games, whether that's at home or away. We've got some tough games but that's where we test ourselves and see where we're at...we'll need to be good defensively.

"We certainly don't deserve to have lost the amount of games we have, so I'm just pleased for everyone: the chairman, the players and the fans that made their way up in their numbers.

Wealdstone coach Craig Saunders

Nathan Ferguson, Ashley Charles, Max Kretzschmar and Mason Barrett are all hoping to be in contention for a return to the side after injury, but loanee Deji Elerewe has been recalled by his parent club, Charlton Athletic. Wealdstone boss Start Maynard acted quickly to replace him, loaning Miguel Freckleton from Sheffield United.

"It’s exciting to get Miguel in as he’s a player we’ve really liked since he joined Sheffield Utd," he told Wealdstone's website. "He turned down two National League clubs who are competing in the top ten, so it’s a huge boost to get him in."

WREXHAM'S RECORD AGAINST WEALDSTONE

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We’ve become spoiled when it comes to excitement over the last couple of seasons, but even by those high standards, our visits to Wealdstone have been remarkable.

Our first match at Grosvenor Vale was in October 2020. We went behind after a quarter of an hour, but immediately equalised through an own goal. It looked like we’d taken a grip on the game when Adi Yussuf put us ahead three minutes later, but The Stones equalised half way through the first half with a magnificent long range strike by a certain Jacob Mendy!

After the break, we conceded twice from corners and appeared down and out, but Yussuf pulled one back in the third minute of added time and Fiacre Kelleher ought to have salvaged a point, but missed a close range header in the dying seconds.

Last season we gained revenge in the most dramatic manner imaginable. A 74th minute penalty gave The Stones the lead, but with two minutes left Jack Cook handled on the edge of the area and earned a second yellow card. To add insult to injury, Jordan Davies slammed the free kick against the bar, and got to the rebound first to slam the ball home. A remarkable goal, and one which should not have stood, as no player touched the ball between Davies’ two strikes on goal. It got even worse for the home side, as Reece Hall-Johnson swooped to score the winner in the fifth minute of added time.

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Ben Tozer's 75th Wrexham appearance.

 


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