Saturday's spectacular performance propelled Wrexham into second place in the table, with Paul Mullin taking the match ball home for the 5th time as a Wrexham player.
The only sour note was struck when Anthony Forde suffered an injury in the 27th minute and had to be replaced, cintinuing our miserable run of luck with our wing-backs this season. However, Jacob Mendy's performance as Forde's replacement capped an amazing week after making his international debut in midweek.
Naturally we shouldn't expect too many changes, but if Phil Parkinson does shuffle the pack he'll have noted that the substitutes on Saturday all made impressive contributions, not least the trio who were dropped from the starting eleven: Jordan Davies; James Jones; and Sam Dalby.
LAST TIME WE MET
THE OPPOSING VIEW
Harrogate's form has been erratic this season: poor at home but terrific away.
The Sulfurites went into last Saturday's match at Crawley on the back of 4 consecutive away league wins, a club record. However, the run ended as the home side prevailed 2-1.
That spectacular run of form has kept Town within reach of the play-off places, but at Wetherby Road they've been less impressive lately. They're on a 6-match streak without a home win, losing 5, and in the course of that sequence have conceded 3 to Notts County, 4 to Mansfield and 5 to Accrington Stanley in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.
Injuries have started to accumulate for Harrogate boss Simon Weaver: keeper Mark Oxley is a long-term absentee, full back Toby Simms won't be back for this game, and forward Sam Folarin picked up an injury on Saturday. Levi Sutton and Matty Daly have been on the bench lately but were absent at Crawley and face a race to be fit for Tuesday.
Weaver can rely on veteran striker Jack Muldoon, though. The 35-year old is in fine form, and scored his secon goal in consecutive games on Saturday, albeit in fortunate circumstances.
“It’s hit the side of Ant’s head. I’m sort of stood there and it’s just hit my forehead and gone in so it’s just one of them, but I’ll take them all day, trust me,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser after the Crawley game.
“I think maybe we should have took something from the game but it is what it is, we’ve been brilliant away from home.
“If you look at the goals and the chances that we created you’d like to think we were probably about level, maybe even take a little bit more.
“When we got in, it was just a matter of a bit of composure, and then maybe we would have got the equaliser”.
“I’m not bothered about them, I think everyone else wants to meet them.
“I look forward to every game to be honest, more so this one on Tuesday because they’re going to be bringing some fans and we’ll have a bit of atmosphere again.”
-Jack Muldoon on Rob and Ryan
Of course, the elephant in the room is Luke Armstrong. His deadline day move to Wrexham fell through, leaving the striker in an awkward situation. He's made 3 league starts since, and hasn't added to the goal he scored against Morecambe in August. Weaver left him out of the squad for the last two games, and was candid when the Harrogate Advertiser asked him for an explanation:
“There’s no injury. It was me. I pulled him into my office yesterday at training and I just said ‘with six weeks to go until the transfer window, we know what happened last window’.
"Obviously he wants to get his move. I just want to concentrate on playing the players that are going to be available from January onwards.
"I don’t want to be in a situation in January where I go ‘now I need you’. I think that’s fair enough and he said that’s fair enough.
"But he did say he’d give 100 per cent if called upon, so that’s fine. It doesn’t need to be a fallout. It’s just a matter of fact conversation, but he did agree to give 100 per cent if the circumstances dictate. I just want to solely focus on those players now.”
Armstrong might get an unexpected chance to return to action as top scorer Sam Folarin tore his hamstring in the defeat at Crawley,
HEAD TO HEAD
Harrogate’s artificial turf has gone, which is a shame as we enjoyed success on it with a win and 2 draws. Our most recent match in Harrogate, in the first round of the FA Cup 2 seasons ago, was played on grass and ended in our first defeat at Weatherby Road.
Wrexham arrived as underdogs as Harrogate had been promoted from the National League, but Jordan Ponticelli gave us a lead which we held onto 35 minutes until Town equalised. Six minutes later Danilo Orsi hit the winner.
Two seasons earlier, we pulled off an upset to enjoy our only win at Harrogate. Town were motoring to promotion, while Dean Keates was trying to pull off a rescue act as Wrexham firted with the relegation zone, but it was the visitors who held the lead at the break through a fine James Jennings free kick. After the break Wrexham had to survive a terrific onslaught, and having done so, struck decisively as JJ Hooper drove in from the right flank to score a magnificent solo goal.
Both sides were flying high when Wrexham trvelled to Harrogate for the first time in September 2018, and fought out a goalless draw.
Less than a month later we were there again, in the FA Cup, and once more the outcome was a goalless draw. Wrexham would break the deadlock in the replay, winning 2-0 through goals from Akil Wright and Luke Young.
The remarkable difference between Harrogate's home and away performances is reflected in the data, as they tend to occupy the extremes of the spectrum. For example, they're the lowest home scorers in the division, but in away games only AFC Wimbledon and Wrexham have conceded fewer. And there's more: only Forest Green have ost more home games, but only Mansfield have won more on the road.
Liam McAlinden's 325th career appearance.