In what felt like an eternity since Wrexham’s last league fixture, Phil Parkinson’s ten-men showed their grit to claim the three points against Colchester United.
The U’s had the worst defensive record coming into this fixture, and they didn’t hold out for long with Elliot Lee netting his twelfth goal of the season.
Ben Tozer’s long throws have proved a real threat in recent games against Yeovil Town and Harrogate Town, leading directly to goals and it was to be no different this time around.
In the fourth minute, former Wrexham player Fiacre Kelleher’s headed glance fell to the feet of the unmarked Elliot Lee at the back-post, who swept the ball into the bottom corner at the second time of asking.
The match was pandering out well, until George Evans’ high challenge on Cameron McGeehan midway through the first half, changing the complexion of the afternoon. The challenge was right underneath the nose of referee Oliver Yates, who showed the already booked midfielder a straight red card.
This was to be the first red card of Evans’ career, and our first since Yates sent off Andy Cannon away at Crawley Town in October.
This meant that for the remainder of the half, Paul Mullin slotted into midfield with Sam Dalby being the lone striker up front.
Although seeing more of the ball and applying more pressure onto Wrexham, the U’s failed to pounce on their extra man advantage, with Wrexham starving the visitors of chances.
As Elliot Lee said post-match, Wrexham dropped too deep and invited pressure onto themselves, and so the second half saw the Red Dragons revert to their original game plan.
James Jones came on at the interval to replace Dalby, meaning the midfielder would slot into the middle three, allowing Mullin to go back up top.
Their defiance to succumb to dropping too deep was rewarded with a fortuitous goal to double the lead.
James McClean only had Mullin in the box to aim for in the 69th minute, and his whipped cross fell way short of the number ten. However, Zach Mitchell seemed to be unknowing to the lack of the striker’s presence and stretched out his right leg to inadvertently divert the ball into the back of Owen Goodman’s net.
This goal proved crucial, because the visitors were always going to find a spell of pressure towards the end of the game and a single goal lead would have been too fragile.
And that it was, as Jayden Fevrier swept home a goal for the U’s just before the 90th minute, after Mark Howard had pushed out McGeehan’s initial header from point blank range.
Sticking to the original game plan proved crucial, as Wrexham’s second half goal was the difference in securing the three points.
The match also saw a return from injury for Eoghan O'Connell, who got eighty minutes under his belt. A welcome sight ahead of the busy festive period.
The win keeps Wrexham level on points with Barrow in the automatic promotion spaces, as Stockport County lead the way by six points having played a game extra.
A long-awaited Welsh derby is Wrexham’s next hurdle, as they face off against Newport County for the first time since the 2013 play-off final at Wembley.