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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Forest Green Rovers

This could be a season-defining match for both sides as the campaign draws to a compelling conclusion.

12 April 2024

Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Forest Green Rovers

This could be a season-defining match for both sides as the campaign draws to a compelling conclusion.

12 April 2024

The stakes couldn't be higher at both ends of the table as Wrexham push to leave League Two while Forest Green battle to remain.


After Tuesday's outstanding performance, victory over Forest Green will secure automatic promotion if MK Dons and Barrow drop points. More importantly, victory in this game will put us terrifically close to securing a top three place regardless of the performances of our rivals.

Phil Parkinson certainly sees things that way, with his focus squarely on the challenge of overcoming tricky opposition. Forest Green are fighting bravely against relegation, and will be difficult opposition, as he knows only too well.

"Our aim is to focus on the game and what we've got to do ourselves," he told BBC Wales.

"We can't control anything outside and our destiny is ultimately in our own hands. We're just preparing to play as well as we can at the weekend and see if that's good enough to get the points against a Forest Green team who are obviously fighting for their lives.

"We're going to go out and try to win the game and see what happens at the end. Whatever happens elsewhere we've got to go out and get the three points.

"The difference [with last season] is that it was us and Notts County head to head. There's been many teams in the shake up, one by one fallen away a little, but there are still teams looking to get into that top three. So there's more to think about after the game, more results to look at.

The lads are in a good place. We're building up to what will be a terrific atmosphere at the Racecourse.

-Phil Parkinson

"At the moment, for myself, the focus is purely on these last few games and I'm not letting my mind drift to anything else. We need to put all our energy into preparations.

"If we were able to get over the line and get promotion, we've got a long time to plan and build the squad strong for next year, whatever division we're in."




On the face of it, Forest Green look to be in real trouble. They're bottom of the league and have lost 4 of their last 5 games. However, the reality is rather more nuanced: they have been battling against relegation heroically in the face of a horrible recent run of games. This is the final game in a sequence of 5 matches against the top 5, and they have been more than competitive in the 4 games played so far. 

The stand-out result, which should stand as fair warning to us that they are perfectly well-equipped to play the role of party-pooper at the STok Cae Ras, was a brilliant 3-0 win at Crewe a fortnight ago. Their away record is actually better than their home form: they've won one game more on their travels despite having played one away game less.

They further illustrated their potential for springing an upset last Tuesday with an imprssive performance at Mansfield. Although it ultimately ended in a 1-0 defeat, Forest Green Rovers boss Steve Cotterill told Gloucestershire Live he was proud of his team's efforts:

“It is funny because I spoke to Nigel Clough after the game the other night and he thought that we had improved massively in the games that he had watched to the game the other night. I have said that to the players as well, we have improved, we have just not had any of those games where it doesn’t mean a lot to some teams if you know what I mean. We have gone and played against some real top teams, what we didn’t do in a couple of games, is against Grimsby we didn’t make the most of being the better team in that game where we really could have done with that.

“Having those run of games, they have been really tough games. When you come up against those sides that are gunning for promotion and have got goals all over their team, what you don’t want to do is give them a leg up or make a mistake, sometimes you can’t legislate for those mistakes and you have to stick by the players when they make those mistakes because they would have done a lot of other good things that go unnoticed.

It will be a pretty similar game and I think the lads will be ready for it.

-Steve Cotterill, Forest Green manager compares the challenge of playing at Wrexham to Tuesday's match at Mansfield.

“It has definitely been a tough run of games, we know that, but that it not to say that the last two that we have against Morecambe and Notts County are not going to be tough games because they will be.”

“If we can win a game sooner rather than later then it is really game on. So, this won’t be any different to the games we have faced this week. The decisive goal at Field Mill came when the ball looped over Vicente Reyes, but Cotterill was quick to leap to the defence of his goalkeeper:

“When you look at it and you know what he has done this season, he has come and taken those crosses out of the air.

"I don’t know whether the wind has played a little part of that and slowed it up in the air and he’s not quite taken it, but at the end of the day, Vinny has been magnificent for us and he has won us games this season and between now and the end of the season he will do the same again.

“Unfortunately, when you are a goalkeeper and you make a mistake, it ends up in the back of the net, but he has been magnificent. Could he have done better for the goal tonight? I think he probably would have thought he could have done, but there is no blame attached to Vinny on that.

“They’ve (Mansfield) had to defend tonight as well as we have. We were excellent tonight, didn’t deserve to lose the game. No chance, absolutely no chance.”

He was also frustrated when a penalty shout was turned down: “There would be no point. There is no point in talking to him at all. I thought tonight that he (Daniel Middleton) was slightly better in the second-half, but for me he didn’t give us anything in the first-half.”

“I would imagine they’re decent considering the amount of goals they have scored and the position they are in, in the table. I thought we were excellent tonight, I thought we were excellent against a team that are probably going to be up there and get promoted.”

“[The players] are all-in and they want to stay committed until the end. They know that the season has been tough. They have come a long way in a short space of time and I thought they were excellent. We wouldn’t have been able to come here and do this tonight a couple of months ago, we got beaten 4-0 at home by them.”

“What goes on at other clubs is nothing to do with us. At the end of the day, we are going to look at results, but that is nothing to do with us. What we have got to do is stay focused and if the other results have gone for us then so be it, but we can’t hinge on that.

“We are not going to celebrate any other team not winning or losing tonight. That is no way to look at it because if you are going to start doing that, then when they win, what are you going to do then? Get equally as miserable? So no, we will keep the equilibrium and stay on the level playing field.”



We've a decent home record against Rovers, and are currently unbeaten in 5 games at the SToK Cae Ras against them.

Their most recent game in North Wales was a very satisfying affair: Dean Keates had inherited a weak squad from Gary Mills and was in the early stages of reshaping it in December 2016 when league leaders Forest Green came to town. The game started dramatically, as Luke Coddington saved a penalty in the tenth minute and Wrexham bit back decisively. With Shaun Harrad, on-loan striker Gerry McDonagh and Paul Rutherford up front, pressing relentlessly, we disomforted Rovers and were two up by the half hour, with Harrad and McDonagh on the scoresheet. Inevitably, Rovers fought back and scored half way through the second half, but a terrific breakaway goal by McDonagh secured a memorable win.

The previous February we welcomed a high-flying Forest Green team to the SToK Cae Ras as our promotion push was beginning to fall apart. We went behind early on, but two set piece goals from centre back Blaine Hudson meant we led until the 4th minute of injury time, when Rovers scored to secure a point.

A dull goalless draw preceded that match, but in november 2013 first half goals from player-manager Andy Morrell and Johnny Hunt earned a 2-0 win. Morrell's volley on the pivot from 15 yards after Rob Ogleby teased in a cross from the right would win the Steve Edwards Goal of the Season Trophy.

Adrian Cieslewicz was the match-winner in October 2012, scoring twice in a 2-1 win to gain revange for our sole loss at home to Forest Green, which took place the season before. It was quite a shock, as we were battling it out with Fleetwood for the National League title. Jake Speight gave us the lead with a 20th minute penbalty, but we never really hit our rhythm and were punished by a Rovers winner in the 4th minute of added time.

The season before saw a well-contested match. Andy Mangan and Andy Morrell fired us into a two goal lead, but we conceded midway through the second half and lived on our nerves before closing out a 2-1 win.

The previous season we beat them 1-0, but left it late as Wes Baynes thrashed home an 89th minute free kick to clinch a win from a moribund game.


Crawley Town v Colchester United

Crewe Alexandra v Grimsby Town

Doncaster Rovers v Accrington Stanley

Gillingham v Barrow

Harrogate Town v Sutton United

Milton Keynes Dons v Mansfield Town

Newport County AFC v Tranmere Rovers

Salford City v Bradford City

Stockport County v Morecambe

Swindon Town v AFC Wimbledon

Walsall v Notts County

It's an illustration of how close this season has been that no promotion or relegation has been decided, even at this late stage. However, we could see some resolution today, most likely at Edgeley Park: Stockport will be promoted if they avoid defeat at home to a Morecambe side which will surely be demoralised after a 3-point deduction probably ended their hopes of a play-off spot.

Obviously, our eyes will be on the progress of our rivals, with Milton Keynes Don facing Mansfield in the game of the day, while Barrow, whose midweek postponement means they'll be playing Saturday-Tuesday for the rest of the season, face a long and tricky trip to Kent to face Gillingham.


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