The two titans of last year’s National League season fought it out in front of over 16,000 fans at Meadow Lane, where Wrexham would triumph two-nil.
Injuries amongst the Wrexham backline were the main talking point ahead of this fixture, sadly compounded by Jordan Tunnicliffe being forced off during the warm-up.
Phil Parkinson explained post-match that Club Captain Ben Tozer wasn’t initally in the squad due to a problem with his knee. However, he came into the starting line-up after Tunnicliffe's injury to partner George Evans and Tom O’Connor at the back, where he had his best performance of the season keeping Macaulay Langstaff in check.
Evans appeared to be man marking David McGoldrick in specific moments during the match too, following him deep into the midfield to dwell the option of feeding the ball through to McGoldrick and to limit his time and space on the ball when he did receive it. The former Sheffield United player was restricted to tame shots from outside the box for the full ninety minutes, as Parkinson’s plan worked to full effect.
The first half was an even affair though. Both sides had chances from in and around the 18-yard area, but both Arthur Okonkwo and Sam Slocombe faired competently with the shots on goal.
It was a really entertaining nil-nil, as one could see the wheels turn in the cogs of play of each side to work out a way to break the other down. Wrexham would be the first to solve this equation...
The home side were too lazy to push out of their box in the aftermath of a Wrexham corner in the 73rd minute, thus giving Elliot Lee the benefit when Matt Palmer eventually ran out to meet him. To Palmer’s misfortune, he pulled up just as Lee shifted an extra yard, giving the Wrexham number 38 room to pull the trigger. The ball appeared to hit a fallen Tozer on its way towards goal, as it looped in slow motion past Slocombe, who was left helpless mid-air.
The Jimmy Sirrel Stand, housing almost three thousand Wrexham fans, went berserk for the goal, as it was the Red Dragons to break the never-ending deadlock.
A lapse of judgement by the County defence just three minutes later, under the presence of substitute Ollie Palmer, saw the scoreline double instantly for Parkinson's men.
With Okonkwo’s mammoth kick bouncing through the County defence, Mullin had the nous to direct the ball into the path of the on-running Palmer, who slotted the ball past a frozen Slocombe just before the gap closed.
After an end-to-end battle for seventy minutes, Wrexham had powered through to win the game in just three.
The Magpies’ response in the final portion of the game was null and void, as the Red Dragons had slammed the door on their renowned offensive football.
Wrexham's defence looked impenetrable, and although Okonkwo wasn’t forced into any extraordinary saves, he had plenty to do, to which he did so perfectly.
Jacob Mendy and James McClean in the wing-back positions squashed any threat that County proposed, with all fourteen players used by Parkinson doing their jobs to a T.
A special mention must be attributed to Andy Cannon too. After returning to the starting eleven, following his suspension suffered at Crawley Town, Cannon bossed the midfield. It felt as though he won every header, most notably when he flew in harm’s way to set through Sam Dalby on the edge of the box.
His assist (depending on whether you award the first goal to Lee or the unaware Tozer on the floor) was the icing on the cake for his performance too, heightened by his reaction to the goal.
The triumphant win saw Wrexham end the matchday in third position, level on points with Notts County.
Focus will now however switch to the FA Cup, where we will begin our campaign for the season back at the One Call Stadium, to face Mansfield Town in the First Round.