After 15 years of heartache in the fifth tier, Wrexham have finally made it back into the English Football League, after a glorious victory against Boreham Wood.
As Notts County just about held off Maidstone’s comeback in the three o’clock kick-off, Wrexham would need all three points against the best defensive side in the league to seal the title.
The Racecourse Ground was truly bouncing ahead of play too. ‘Yma o Hyd’ bellowed from every corner of the ground in what was truly a moment to behold, as fans joined together in song for the last home match of the campaign.
With all the joy and anticipation filling the stadium, the visitors would open the scoring before the first minute had even passed. Jack Payne’s over the top through ball was missed by Ben Tozer, who unfortunately slipped trying to stab the ball away. Lee Ndlovu then effortlessly chipped the ball over Ben Foster to give the visitors the lead.
The reason why there was so much confusion around this goal, was because the decibels only increased when the ball crossed the line. There was no moment of silence to help people register what had just happened, the noise just grew and this was exactly the reaction that was needed.
In recent matches, the Red Dragons have played the long game, struggling to dismantle teams within the first 45 minutes. Coupling this with the Wood’s immense defensive record, it was assumed that the match-up was going to be a real grind. However, Boreham Wood’s quick-fire goal could have been the best thing to happen to Phil Parkinson’s men.
Urgency coursed through the veins of the eleven players on the pitch, with no lack in quality.
The first real moment for Wrexham came in the 15th minute, when Ryan Barnett had his first one-v-one of the match.
Barnett’s ability to take full-backs on with pace and skill has been a real feature of Wrexham’s goals in recent games, and this was no different when he took Femi Ilesanmi on down the by-line. His chipped cross once again drew defenders into the near-post, leaving Elliot Lee completely unmarked at the back-stick to perfectly push his header past Nathan Ashmore in net.
The rest of the first half would see both sides only have half chances, with the game evenly poised for the second period.
Wrexham’s second goal would come just after the restart, when Lee spotted the run of Mullin into the far corner of the pitch. This should have been the classic case of Mullin holding the ball up in the corner, to help bring Lee and Jacob Mendy into play. However, Mullin decided to hold-up David Agbontohoma and pivot around him, allowing room for the number ten to run into the Wood’s box and unleash an unstoppable right-footed jab into the far corner of Ashmore’s goal.
The strength, courage and outrageousness to score that type of goal could only have been done by Paul Mullin.
It would be some feat to score one goal like that in a game of this magnitude, but Mullin would score an equally sublime goal in the 71st minute.
As seen so many times before, Mullin leant into his defender waiting for the incoming long-ball, and would open up his body at the exact moment to let the ball run through, leaving Chris Bush in no-man’s land. Mullin would now run at Will Evans, whose body shape was forever entangled, as Mullin teased the ball either side of him. The decisive touch pushed the ball onto his left-foot and oddly, Mullin decided to strike the ball across Ashmore for the far corner, and not the near-post. His accuracy was so true though, and it landed in the same top corner once again.
This goal really did feel like the championship was won, even with twenty minutes still left on the clock.
Throughout the entirety of the second half, Boreham Wood were contained and were not given any opportunity to get back into the game. It was beyond admirable for the players to keep their concentration and structure in a high stakes game such as this.
Lee spoke after the game and said how crucial it was to withstand a second goal from Boreham Wood, because that would only have heaped immense pressure onto the players to hold out for the win.
The final whistle did eventually came and the town joined together to celebrate the achievement on the pitch with the players, as Wrexham claimed the title and automatic promotion back into the Football League.
Luke Young and Ben Tozer would then later lift the Vanarama National League trophy to an immense roar across the Racecourse Ground, as the hurt finally came to an end.