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Match Previews

PREVIEW | FC Halifax Town vs Wrexham

A huge away following will watch Wrexham look to replicate Saturday's performance.

6 April 2023

Match Previews

PREVIEW | FC Halifax Town vs Wrexham

A huge away following will watch Wrexham look to replicate Saturday's performance.

6 April 2023

The short trip along the M62 will be made in the knowledge that Phil Parkinson's side are entering into a massive Easter weekend.

The task is obvious for Wrexham: maintain the standards established last Saturday. The 5-1 victory over Oldham ingnited a debate over whether it was the best performance of a remarkable season, and the fact that it brought up a 100 point total for the first time in the club's history meant it certainly had a symbolic importance.

Halifax had their own super Saturday, winning on penalties in the FA Trophy semi-finsl at Altrincham to secure a second trip to Wembley in their history.

Milli Alli's last minute strike took the game to a shoot-out, but Sam Johnson was the hero of the hour, which will come as no surprise to Wrexham fans. The goalkeeper has regularly thwarted The Red Dragons, most memorably when he pulled off a series of remarkable saves to end our hopes of a top three spot in 2018 as Town beat us 2-1.

"We are absolutely delighted to be returning to Wembley.

"We certainly did it the hard way and in an extremely dramatic fashion but well done to the players and the staff for showing such great fighting spirit and never giving up.

-David Bosomworth, Halifax Town chairman.

Johnson pulled off a series of stops to keep Halifax in the match, and then saved three penalties in the shoot-out. Afterwards he shared his thoughts with the Halifax Courier:

"It was just a typical Halifax thing, we were pretty dead and buried in the game, we weren't the best in the game, they dominated us really. We had a bit of a chance here and there but they had some clear-cut ones, luckily we rode the storm out, I made a few decent saves in the second-half to keep us in it.

"Then it was a great finish at the end from Milli. It was just sheer disbelief.

"With ten minutes to go, I'd given up really, everything was going through my head, nothing was falling for us and we weren't getting many chances.

"The goal came out of nowhere but he's got that in his locker, he can probably be a bit frustrating at times because he tries things in the wrong places, but give him a moment, especially from that distance, and he's lethal."

"It's been a bit of a difficult season, there's not been a lot to cheer about, so when these moments come about, you've got to enjoy them and we certainly did.

-Sam Johnson, Halifax goalkeeper.

Johnson is hopeful that The Shaymen can follow up that performance against Wrexham:

"I think everyone knows going into it that it's going to be a tough game.

"Any result for us would be a positive one, but in the last four, five, six games we've only lost to Chesterfield.

"We can use this (reaching Wembley) as a bit of momentum, we can carry on from the high of the weekend and cause a bit of an upset and a shake-up at the top of the table.

"We want to finish strong and take the momentum into the last seven games and into the final.

"When we played at their place we more than matched them for 45 minutes.

"You know what you're going to get from them, it's going to be a lot of balls in the box, a lot of pressure.

"Don't get me wrong, they've got some very good players.

"But for me it's an opportunity.

"I'm pretty sure they've sold out their allocation, it's going to be a pretty good crowd in for us, the fans are going to be on a high from Saturday as well.

"So it's down to us to put a bit of a show on, these are the best games you can play in and step up and make a bit of a name for yourself."

Halfax manager Chris Millington shares Johnson's optimism, although he certainly paid Wrexham a large dose of respect when he spoke to the Halifax Courier:

"We go into it looking to win the game. Everyone will be bored of me saying it this season but we do approach every game with the intention of trying to win it. I'd be a fool if I didn't acknowledge that's a huge challenge against this Wrexham side because of their form this season.

"We go into it with a realistic approach of knowing it's going to be a huge challenge, but it's 11 men against 11 men at the end of the day and we've got some fantastic young men in our squad now and some excellent experience and we've given some fantastic performances that haven't quite been fully rewarded at times this season.

-Chris Millington - Halifax Manager

"So we don't go into it with any fear and we go into it with every intention of trying to win the game, and if we fail to do that we certainly want to put on a show and show that we can compete with the big boys, like we did for large parts of the Chesterfield game and Barnet at home.

"Barnet are another strong team at the top end of the division who we went toe-to-toe with for the full match and should probably have come out of that game with a win and certainly deserved a draw out of it.

"So we know we can do that and we want to show to everybody that we can compete with those at the top end of the division because that's what we'll be working hard to do next season."

Halifax might be 17th, but their defensive record at home must be respected: Southend are the only side outside the play-offs to have conceded fewer goals on their own patch. Between October and December they won 6 consecutive home matches, but wins have not come easily since then: the following 7 matches at The Shay yielded just 1 win and 3 draws. That sequence came to an end in their most recent league outing, when Aldershot were beaten 2-0.

LAST TIME WE MET

Wrexham 3 (Tozer 65, Davies 83, Hayden 90) Halifax Town 1 (Dieseruvwe 13 (pen))

WREXHAM: Howard, Hayden, Tozer, Tunnicliffe (Davies 62), Forde, Young, Jones, McFadzean, Lee (Dalby 78), Mullin, Palmer. Unused subs: Watson, Cleworth, McAlinden.

HALIFAX TOWN: Johnson, Golden, Debrah, Arthur, Senior, Hunter, Summerfield, Spence, Dieseruvwe, Slew, Cooke (Gilmour 80). Unused subs: Harker, Cappello, Alli, Clarke.

HEAD TO HEAD

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A win at The Shay would match our best run of victories against Halifax Town, as we’ve beaten them the last 4 times we met.

Our two most recent home games against them ended in 3-1 wins, and we enjoyed memorable wins the last two times we visited The Shaymen.

Last season we were trailling with 7 minutes left when James Jones struck. That wasn’t the end of it: in the second minute of added time, Paul Mullin scored the winner.

The season before we registered our biggest ever win on Halifax’s home patch, after sweeping the game away from them in an astonishing first half blitz. Jordan Davies opened the scoring in the 4th minute and Wrexham continued to pile on the pressure until Dior Angus scored a second. By the 36th minute it was 4-0 as Davies struck home two more fine goals to earn a remarkable hat trick.

Davies has four goals to his credit in this fixture, making him our fifth highest scorer against Halifax alongside Karl Connolly, Gordon Gunson, Gordon Richards and George Snow. Ahead of him are Albert Kinsey and Sammy McMillan on 5, and Tommy Bamford and Billy Tunnicliffe on 6.

We’d suffered our heaviest defeat at The Shay the previous season, although there were extenuating circumstances. Dean Keates was in the midst of a rebuilding job, and wasn’t about to risk his first choice team in an FA Trophy first round tie. He selected a mixture of youngsters and players who weren’t in his plans for the future, and watched them crash to a 4-0 defeat. In an afternoon of calamities, JJ Hooper missed a penalty and Leighton McIntosh was sent off for a wild two-footed lunge. He would never play for Wrexham alone and he wasn’t alone: of the fourteen players who appeared that day, only Christian Dibble, Max Cleworth and Devonte Redmond remained the following season.

We lost in frustrating circumstances in Halifax as the 2018-19 season came to a conclusion. We were looking to finish strongly to earn a home semi-final in the play-offs, and started strongly, but Sam Johnson pulled out a pair of brilliant saves to deny Bobby Grant and tipped a Luke Summerfield free kick round the post. Further salt was rubbed in our wounds when ex-Wrexham striker Scott Quigley put Town in front. Chris Holroyd did manage to equalise with a scrappy goals from a corner, and James Jennings thought he’d given us that precious lead with a close range header, but Johnson pulled off a remarkable save, although it looked suspiciously like the ball had crossed the line before he clawed it back into the goalmouth.

To make things even worse, Devonte Rodney scored a 92nd minute winner, and we missed out on that precious top three spot by one point, losing in the play-off quarter-finals to Eastleigh.

Historically, we essentially lose half the time we play at The Shay, having won 17 and drawn 17 of our 67 games there. Overall we’ve won 54 games to Halifax’s 45.


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