Four different goalscorers led Wrexham to a comfortable 4-2 victory over Walsall in Sky Bet League Two.
Luke Young made his first start of the league season, as the midfield took a different look to the one that drew away to AFC Wimbledon. Whilst Jake Bickerstaff led the line with Ollie Palmer for a second time this season.
A real hunger and tenacity engulfed Wrexham’s play from the get-go, as the visitors were penned into their away box. Elliot Lee, Will Boyle and Ollie Palmer all had headers, which were clawed away by Owen Evans in goal.
With such dominance and a plethora of opportunities, breaking the deadlock was only a matter of time for Wrexham. Boyle would have his second header of the game to open the scoring, from a delightful first time Young cross.
The second came just over ten minutes later in the twentieth minute, when Chris Hussey failed to head away an Anthony Forde long ball effectively, giving Palmer the chance to volley the ball first time from 25 yards out. The ball gracefully flew over Evans’ head and bounced perfectly over the line and into the back of the net.
Walsall had tried to reset after the first goal, but this was a defiant moment to confirm Wrexham’s grip on the game.
Or so one thought, as just four minutes later, the Saddlers gained one back through an old corner routine. Isaac Hutchinson passed his corner along the by-line, as Freddie Draper peeled away from Jacob Mendy on the goal-line. With his back to goal, Draper flicked the ball first time for Hussey to latch on to, as he smashed the ball into the back of the Wrexham net to atone for his earlier error.
Wrexham did in fact respond well to conceding, but after such an upbeat feel to the first twenty minutes, for the game not to feel in Wrexham’s control was nerve wracking.
This was compounded by Walsall’s brilliant start to the second half, with Ryan Stirk being denied a goal of the season contender by the crossbar, after a sensational looping volley.
The lead felt so fragile for Wrexham, like the nil-nil scoreline in the early minutes for Walsall. However, the pace of Mendy defies momentum.
He burst past Joe Faulkes on the left-wing to direct a ball to Bickerstaff. The number 27 was to-ing and fro-ing from the near-post to the far-post, as Harry Williams was too cautious of getting close to the young striker. This meant that Bickerstaff could control the cross, with the ball going slightly behind him, and then swivel to swipe the ball through the legs of Evans, in the middle of a crowd of Walsall defenders.
Bickerstaff spoke after the Wigan Athletic game of how he rued not taking his chances in front of goal, and so to see him smash the ball into the net in a such a pivotal moment in the game was a special moment for all connected to Wrexham.
As was a feature in the game, the Saddlers’ responsive pressure to Wrexham’s goal was unrelenting. Shots were fired narrowly wide of Ben Foster’s goal and once again, something had to give. This time, it would come in the form of substitutions to help break the game up.
The 90th minute drew closer and Elliot Lee helped to put the game to bed; pouncing on a failed Faulkes clearance to tuck the ball into the bottom corner from inside the ‘D’.
The stadium erupted, as the three goal buffer all but sealed the first three points of Wrexham’s return to the Football League.
Impressive performances were rife across the pitch, with Forde and Mendy being instrumental on the wings.
The legs of James Jones and Young in midfield proved a necessity in this game, as they constantly harrowed across the front of the Wrexham 18-yard box to shepherd the many spells of Walsall pressure across the game.
Aramide Oteh would gather a cheap consolation goal for the visitors in added time, but it was a much deserved three points for Phil Parkinson’s men.
As was the case many a time last season, a late goal was essential in preventing any slender leads from being held in the final stages of the game.
Wrexham now move up into the top half of the table, with a match-up against tenth placed Swindon Town up next at the STōK Cae Ras.