Wrexham AFC claimed their first league win of the season in style, beating Walsall 4-2 under the floodlights at the STōK Cae Ras after goals from Will Boyle, Ollie Palmer, Jake Bickerstaff and Elliot Lee.
Phil Parkinson made four changes to the side who drew in London against AFC Wimbledon at the Cherry Red Records Stadium on the weekend.
Wrexham started the stronger of the two sides in the opening exchanges, with Anthony Forde having great success down the right early-on.
Elliot Lee registered Wrexham’s first chance of the half in the 5th minute, making a late run into the box and rising highest to connect with the ball in the air, forcing Owen Evans into a smart stop to tip the ball over the bar.
Parkinson’s side continued to enjoy great success down the right side of the pitch, and they opened the scoring with just eight minutes on the clock.
After an impressive cameo at Wimbledon on the weekend, Luke Young was given the nod in midfield for the match, captaining the side out at the STōK Cae Ras.
It was his excellent delivery from the far-side that found Boyle, who had already threatened with his aerial ability early on.
Boyle lifted himself above his opposite number, brilliantly lofting an expertly weighted header over Evans to score his first goal for the Red Dragons on his home debut in what was a perfect start to life in North Wales.
Wrexham continued their early dominance and soon enough doubled their advantage against the Saddlers.
Evans came out of his area to punch the ball clear, but only cleared it into the path of Ollie Palmer from distance and Wrexham’s number nine produced an excellent lob from distance to score his first goal of the season.
With the ball on the bounce, Palmer produced a sensationally weighted strike on the half-volley from his right-foot, lifting the ball over Owens into the back of the Walsall net exceptionally, to send the Wrexham faithful into delirium in the 21st minute.
Just three minutes later, the visitors provided a swift response. Chris Hussey latched onto a corner from Issac Hutchinson, and the defender poked home from close range to halve the deficit.
The hosts spent the remainder of the first half in pursuit of a third goal, to restore their two-goal lead. Palmer, Jake Bickerstaff, Eoghan O’Connell and Lee all registered chances – but nothing of note as Wrexham went into the break with a one-goal advantage for their efforts.
Walsall got the second half underway and came out with renewed belief in their search of a leveller.
Mat Sadler’s side went agonisingly close just four minutes after the restart, with Wales U21 international Ryan Stirk’s volley from 25-yards-out just centimetres from finding the net as it cannoned off the post.
The rebound fell straight to the feet of captain Donvervon Daniels, but Ben Foster was alert to the threat and got down well to deny the Walsall defender from close-range.
Despite the early let off, the Red Dragons found an all-important third goal with 56 minutes played.
It was Wrexham’s number 27, Bickerstaff, who has enjoyed a brilliant start to the 2023/24 campaign, that deservedly netted his first goal of the season to restore his side’s lead.
Jacob Mendy produced yet another of his trademark runs down the left, drilling a pin-point delivery into the feet of the Wrexham AFC Academy graduate.
He produced a brilliant first touch to trap the ball, with his second resulting in a powerful low strike on his right-foot which ended up in back of the net to extend Wrexham’s advantage.
With 20 minutes remaining, Lee went close to registering a fourth goal for the Red Dragons.
The 28-year-old tested Evans with a low right-footed drive from the edge of the area, forcing the Walsall keeper into a quick stop to keep his side in the match.
Lee went one better in the 85th minute, doubling his tally for the season, as he finally got the goal that his performance deserved.
After picking up the ball on the edge of the area, he fired into the bottom-left corner with precision, scoring Wrexham’s fourth goal of the evening.
Walsall responded back, scoring a second goal in added time through substitute Aramide Oteh, but Wrexham held on for their first league victory of the season since returning to the EFL.
Wrexham AFC line-up: Foster (GK), O’Connell, Tozer, Boyle, Forde, Jones, Young (C), Lee (O’Connor 86’), Mendy, Bickerstaff (Waters 72’), Palmer (Dalby 72’).
Subs not used: Howard (GK), Barnett, Hosannah, Cannon.
Attendance: 10,188 (1,146 away).