An inspired performance from Wrexham helped them to demolish a floundering Morecambe side 6-0 at the STōK Cae Ras.
Paul Mullin’s hat-trick marked his first since April and Wrexham’s first in the Football League since Juan Ugarte in 2005.
After a disappointing defeat away to Accrington Stanley, this was the perfect response from Phil Parkinson’s men, against a side fighting to break into the play-off positions.
The Red Dragons were boosted by the return of James McClean and Jacob Mendy from international duty, as Parkinson further opted to use Andy Cannon in the midfield, in a first start since his minor injury suffered against Mansfield Town in the Emirates FA Cup.
The only correct word to describe Cannon’s performance against Morecambe is omnipresent.
After helping a move progress in the fifth minute, the moment McClean poked the ball to Mullin, Cannon began his darting move to the back-post. His sheer presence was enough for Joel Senior to buckle under the ball from Mullin’s inverted cross, almost guiding a header into the gap in Adam Smith’s goal.
Just two minutes later, Cannon would turn provider for Mullin. Following some considered play on the right-wing with Anthony Forde, Cannon whipped a low, bending cross into the path of Mullin. The number ten swooped in to beat Farrend Rawson to the ball, with a hooked right legged swing diverting the ball underneath Smith in goal.
Cannon had constantly found pockets in-between a plethora of Morecambe defenders, making it beyond difficult for him to be picked up.
Likewise for the third goal, as he was sat on the edge of the Shrimps’ box with a vast amount of space to collect the ball in. This forced Eli King to come charging out of the box to close him down, but the ball was already set aside to Mendy, who was brought off the bench following an injury to Forde.
Returning from receiving his first ever international cap for Gambia, Mendy strode into the box up against Senior, whose body position was something left to be desired. Shifting the ball to get a shot away, Mendy delayed amidst Senior’s comical last-ditch dive, leaving King as the next defender, floundering as to what to do. Mendy knew though, as he cannoned the ball into the roof of the net to add a third to the scoreline.
Wrexham’s quick, decisive play truly made a mockery of Morecambe’s attempts at defending.
Their defensive woes were made worse by Smith, who had a day to forget in net.
Some may have offered up an excuse for his part in Mullin’s first goal, being blindsided, however the number ten’s second goal in the 67th minute afforded no such excuse, as his half-volley nutmegged the goalkeeper from 18-yards out.
The hat-trick came ten minutes later, and this time all credit must be bestowed onto Mullin. A pinpoint Tom O’Connor pass, was followed up by a confident first touch from Mullin, taking Jacob Bedeau and Rawson out of the game. Mullin then placed an outswinging shot into the far corner on his week foot; an excellent finish as Smith had quickly come out to close down the shot.
Although this won’t be labelled as Mullin’s finest ever hat-trick, his all-round performance in the game was phenomenal, especially in regard to his runs and link-up play.
The joy that Wrexham found going forward was due to the stable block at the back, courtesy of Aaron Hayden, Ben Tozer and O’Connor.
The small spell of pressure that the visitors boasted at 2-0 was easily dealt with by the Wrexham backline, as George Evans was once again exceptional in shepherding the backline.
Parkinson said post-match: “If we passed the ball with quality, we could punish them.”
Most of the goals came from a pinpoint pass, but the last goal truly emphasised the manager’s words.
With full time about to be whistled, Evans played a direct ball into the feet of substitute James Jones on the edge of the box, who had just run from the wing into the space. Jones flicked the ball behind him, knowing full well that Sam Dalby would be parading into the box.
With Chris Stokes ball watching, Dalby was able to return the ball to a free Jones, who lassoed the ball with gumption into the back of Smith’s net, to seal an incredible afternoon for the Red Dragons.
The win propelled Wrexham into second position, with Stockport County and Mansfield Town both losing.
Harrogate Town are the next target for Parkinson’s men, looking to avenge the Emirates FA Cup defeat at the EnviroVent Stadium two years prior.