Tuesday's 1-0 win against Maidenhead United maintained Wrexham's 100% home record and narrowed the gap to league leaders Notts County. Now we turn our attention to the cup and a replay of the spectacular start we made to last month.
It was a gruelling match with a bizarrely high number of head injuries. Both Ben Tozer and Ollie Palmer ended the match with their heads swathed in bandages, but it's the knocks Jordan Tunnicliffe and Bryce Hosannah took which will most concern Phil Parkinson.
Tunnicliffe was injured in an aerial challenge with Adrian Clifton, and although he stayed on the pitch long enough to make an excellent headed clearance from a dangerous cross, he couldn't continue on one leg and hobbled off to be replaced by Tom O'Connor. Hosannah took a knock in the closing moments, and no doubt appreciated some respite during the 8 minutes of added time after covering a lot of ground in his return from injury.
Listen to the game LIVE on Wrexham Player
Oldham had the luxury of a free midweek while Wrexham faced Maidenhead, and since they lost at home to Wrexham their form has continued to be patchy with sporadic wins mixed in among intervals of frustration.
In 5 subsequent league games, all against sides in the bottom 10 of the table, they only managed 1 win and 2 draws, and hover just 2 points above the drop zone.
It's been a rough introduction to the Boundary Park hot seat for David Unsworth. Having cut his teeth at Everton, he has an impressive reputation in the coaching world, but his immediate job was to get a tune out of the squad he inherited.
After losing his opening two games, at Bromley and then against Wrexham, he steadied the ship with 2 league draws and a home win over Yeovil Town.
He also got through the qualifying round of the FA Cup to set up this encounter although, like Wrexham, he encountered a tough challenge from a National League North side. Chester held them to a draw at Boundary Park and were moments from an extra time victory in the replay when Mike Fondop struck to take the tie to penalties. Despite Fondop missing from the spot, the Latics squeezed through.
Subsequent defeats to Altrincham and Halifax have been a blow, though, and Oldham's away record is also a cause for concern. Athletic have the least away points in the National League this season, and have scored just 3 goals in 8 away matches.
Unsworth's furious reaction to the defeat at Halifax suggested we could see changes to his side for the trip to North Wales. He's lost defender James Carragher, who impressed against Wrexham last month, to injury, but Mark Kitching has arrived on loan and thankfully Hallum Hope has recovered from the horrific assault he suffered after playing Chesterfield in September.
"It's hard to put into words how I feel right now, the disappointment I have. But what I will say is we have two weeks now to our next league game, and by hook or by crook our team will look totally different from that. I've looked the players in the eyes and I've just told them that. I'll work night and day to get better players in, I can assure you.
Still, Unsworth enjoyed victory in the FA Cup as an Everton player in 1995, as he and Dave Watson repelled Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in a 1-0 win at Wembley. He'll hope the competition can provide the impetus his side needs to pull away from the relegation zone.
HEAD TO HEAD
We welcome Oldham to The Racecourse enjoying our best run of wins over The Latics. We’ve won our last 5 games against then, including this season’s last-gasp comeback win at Boundary Park.
The last time they visited us was in 2005. In fact, they came to The Racecourse twice in the space of 5 days that season, losing 1-0 on both occasions.
The first match was the second leg of the LDV Vans Trophy semi-final. Wrexham already led 5-3 after the first clash, and any hopes Oldham had of launching an epic comeback were quashed by Chris Llewellyn’s 65th minute goal.
The following Saturday it looked like Athletic would achieve at least some sort of revenge, but a last minute goal by Hector Sam denied them a point.
The previous season we enjoyed our biggest home win against Oldham. Lee Jones and Carlos Edwards both struck just before the break, and soon after the resumption Dennis Lawrence got a third. Mark Jones’ 89th minute strike secured a 4-0 win.
We’ve met The Latics three times in the FA Cup, and like the upcoming clash they were all home ties in the first round. In 1937 we triumphed 2-1 thanks to goals by Nathan Fraser and Archie Burgon, but 11 years later we suffered a 3-0 defeat.
The third clash came in 1968, and a burst of four goals in 11 minutes either side of the break decided it. By the 53rd minute Wrexham were four goals to the good: Arfon Griffiths started and rounded off the scoring spree, with Ian Moir and Albert Kinsey each striking in between.
Oldham managed two late goals to no avail.
Luke Young’s 450th career appearance and 200th game for Wrexham.