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INTERVIEW | Phil Parkinson ahead of Walsall

Read the Gaffer's thoughts ahead of tonight's game

29 December 2023


INTERVIEW | Phil Parkinson ahead of Walsall

Read the Gaffer's thoughts ahead of tonight's game

29 December 2023

Phil Parkinson aims to end an incredible 2023 with a victory when the Red Dragons travel to the West Midlands to take on Walsall this evening.

In a year that included a record-breaking title campaign and a pre-season tour to the USA, the Reds go into tonight’s fixture second in Sky Bet League Two.

They bolstered their position in the automatic promotion places, as Parkinson’s men battled hard to earn a 1-0 victory on Boxing Day against Swindon Town.

Ahead of the fixture, the Wrexham boss explained that another sold-out away allocation will be crucial to securing the three points come the final whistle.

He said: “We never take the support we get for granted, and as I said after the Swindon game, the level of support we had down there was outstanding.

“We’ve got a good travelling army going with us to Walsall and my message to all those supporters is that we need one huge effort required by everybody.

“We really need to get the lads to run those hard yards and it will be a different feel to the game than it was Boxing Day.

“Our supporters will be key, and that togetherness between the players and supporters will be massive in setting up a fantastic occasion on New Year’s Day.”

The two sides met back in August, when the Red Dragons earned their first league win of the season, with a 4-2 victory against the Sadlers.

Will Boyle got the dream start, with a towering header kick-starting the performance, and Jake Bickerstaff capping off the victory in the second half.

Since then, they sit in 16th place but have recorded four victories from the last five fixtures, most recently a 2-0 win against Crewe Alexandra.

Previewing tonight’s opponents, Parkinson believes it will be a different type of challenge than we faced on Boxing Day.

He said: “Walsall are a more physical team and will be coming into the game in high spirits with their win on Boxing Day.

“It’ll be another great game and advert for Sky Bet League Two with a good attendance, especially with our away support.

“There won’t be as much space on the pitch, it’ll be more physical, and we need to be ready for that.”

Last time out the Red Dragons overcame adversity to defeat Swindon Town on Boxing Day at the County Ground.

James McClean led the line alongside Sam Dalby, as Paul Mullin started on the bench, missing out through illness.

The Irish Centurion bagged the opener, as the two forwards combined before slotting past Lewis Ward.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic, as James Jones received two bookings in six minutes, meaning Parkinson’s side played out the final quarter of an hour with ten men.

Victory saw Wrexham move into second place, and Parkinson added he was proud of the team’s performance.

He said: “We’re very pleased to get the win and for 70 minutes I thought we were dominant in the game.

“The lads stuck to the game plan well, we knew where the space would be and we exploited that.

“Of course, one-nil is a dangerous scoreline but we had other chances and their keeper pulled off some excellent saves.

“The sending-off changed the game, but we made some great blocks and defended well to get to the final whistle with three points.

“It was an important victory and takes us into the Walsall game in good spirits.”

Tonight’s fixture marks the final game of 2023 and culminates one of the most successful years of the Club’s history.

A dramatic, record-breaking title campaign saw the Red Dragons achieve promotion back to the EFL with 111 points.

Also, Parkinson’s side has reached the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup for consecutive seasons and played four pre-season fixtures in the USA.

Reflecting on what has been a historic year, Parkinson shared his highlights of 2023.

He said: “The Boreham Wood victory and the promotion was the standout moment of the year for me because getting back into the EFL was so important for the Club.

“I’m pleased with how we adapted to life in League Two, and we’ve really enjoyed the season so far.

“We’re looking forward to finishing off the calendar year in good style, taking us into the New Year’s Day game in front of a full house at the STō​K Cae Ras."

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