Wrexham coasted past Gillingham at the STōK Cae Ras thanks to Ollie Palmer and Ben Tozer, in front of a season record crowd.
With injuries and suspensions being the main talking points heading into the game, there may have been cause for concern for Phil Parkinson and his management team. However, fans were greeted with the welcome news of Aaron Hayden and Jordan Tunnicliffe’s return from injury.
Hayden’s direct inclusion into the starting eleven meant that George Evans moved back up into the midfield, whereby he had one of his silkiest games in a Wrexham shirt.
The number twelve glided across the midfield, looking effortless both in offence and defence. The antithesis of this being in the 64th minute, when he stepped on the ball with one foot and flicked it around Macauley Bonne with the other.
On the note of eye-catching players, Tom O’Connor had his best game in the left centre back position for Wrexham, and against his former side.
It has always been remarked how good O’Connor’s decision making is, in accordance with when to step forward and when to drop-off, but this fixture highlighted just how good his instincts are. An instant commitment to race forward ahead of George Lapslie to intercept Cheye Alexander’s pass, allowed the Red Dragons to progress out of their half in the 87th minute and thus out of danger.
These small incidents all equated to a tremendous defensive display against the visitors.
With one end of the pitch secured, eyes looked forward to see how Wrexham fared without Paul Mullin and James McClean, who both served a one game suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
It took less than a minute to prove any doubters wrong, as Palmer opened the scoring with 54 seconds on the clock.
An incredible one-touch passing combination going from Tozer to Elliot Lee, allowed our top scorer this season to set Jacob Mendy on the wing. His accurate cross was dreadfully dealt with by Shadrach Ogie in the box, seeing the ball bobble to Sam Dalby.
Jake Turner flew off his line to smother Dalby’s shot, but Palmer was in the right place at the right time and simply couldn’t miss the rebound.
Although the eventual goal was a scramble, the build-up play was second to none; a quick advancement leaving the opposition one step behind.
A different side to Wrexham's play was shown for the second goal, with Evans and Mendy biding their time on the left-wing in the 71st minute.
Connor Mahoney and Timothee Dieng did their best to prevent any chance from unfolding, but they were no match for Evans’ quick touch towards the by-line and even quicker outside of the foot flick inwards to dupe Dieng and set Mendy away into the Gills’ box.
Preparing to set off on national duty with The Gambia, Mendy smashed a cross to the near-post, where none other than centre back Tozer was to deflect the ball into the top corner to double the lead.
For a game with little chances, the Red Dragons were so good to watch.
Parkinson pointed out post-match about Tottenham Hotspur losing late on against Wolverhampton Wanderers after leading one-nil, and thus how vital it is for every player to fulfill their job right until the end to secure the three points. In the dying embers of the game, Dalby somehow tricked his way past three Gills men surrounding him on the right wing by-line, before playing a fizzing cross-field ball to Mendy and almost getting on the end of the subsequent cross himself. The number 18 was phenomenal over the ninety minutes, and this moment was the exact attitude that Parkinson was touching on.
The win has now pushed Parkinson’s side into second place, after Notts County suffered defeat against Crewe Alexandra. Five points remains the gap to Stockport County in first place.
An away trip to Accrington Stanley is the next test for the Red Dragons, who will arrive at the Wham Stadium eleven games unbeaten.