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REPORT | Wrexham AFC 1-0 Notts County

Red Dragons climb back into top three after impressive win

17 February 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Wrexham AFC 1-0 Notts County

Red Dragons climb back into top three after impressive win

17 February 2024

Steven Fletcher’s seventh league goal of the season lifted Wrexham AFC back into the automatic promotion spots, as they claimed a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Notts County at the STōK Cae Ras.

The visitors started strongly, as Arthur Okonkwo made a number of crucial saves to keep the scores level early on.

Fletcher then went on to break the deadlock after 20 minutes, as his acrobatic effort rifled into the back of the net to give Wrexham an important advantage.

David McGoldrick thought he’d levelled the scores in the 70th minute as he found the back of the net from close-range, but it was ruled out for handball almost immediately.

The fourth official indicated a minimum of seven minutes added-on, but the Wrexham faithful rallied behind the side as the Red Dragons held on for a crucial three points against last season’s National League title rivals.

Phil Parkinson made three changes from Tuesday night in Sutton, as James Jones, Ryan Barnett and Paul Mullin came in. 

They replaced Jack Marriott, Luke Bolton and George Evans - who suffered an injury in South London which forced him to be substituted. 

David McGoldrick got the match underway in North Wales, and the visitors quickly tested Parkinson’s side as Arthur Okonkwo was called into action after just one minute and seven seconds.

Dan Crowley’s impressive cross from the right found the prolific Macaulay Langstaff in Wrexham’s box, but Okonkwo was more than equal to his powerful header from close-range, producing a heroic save to keep the scores level.

Eoghan O’Connell was then called into action, deflecting an effort from County’s number nine, before Steven Fletcher produced an acrobatic clearance from inside the box to keep the deadlock intact.

After suffering through and initial spell of pressure from the Magpies, the Red Dragons were eventually rewarded for their patience as Fletcher netted the first goal of the match after just 20 minutes.

Barnett was enjoying a plethora of success down the right-side, and it was his cross that found the former Scotland international, who challenged for the initial header in a crowded box.

The 36-year-old was most alert, and it paid off for the forward, as whilst falling to the ground, he managed to produce a technically excellent volley into the far corner which left Luca Ashby-Hammond with no chance.

Okonkwo yet again made a fine stop, this time denying David McGoldrick’s left-footed effort after 24 minutes at the STōK Cae Ras, which seemed destined to reach the back of the net.

O’Connell was yet again forced to take evasive action, as he headed Jodi Jones’ dangerous cross onto Okonkwo’s post in the 36th minute, with the visitors attempting to level proceedings in North Wales.

There were late claims for a penalty with a minute remaining in the first half, as Mullin managed to get around Jaden Warner in the Notts box, before he was seemingly brought down under pressure from the defender.

Despite that, referee Carl Brook waved away any protests, and Wrexham headed into the interval with a one-goal advantage against Stuart Maynard’s side.

Having grown into the match towards the end of the opening 45, Wrexham came back out full of confidence, and it showed on the pitch.

Fletcher almost doubled his tally for the afternoon, as he tested Ashby-Hammond – who he found off his line. The forward’s header was a fair effort, but County’s keeper just about managed to recover and caught his attempt after 53 minutes.

Just seconds later, Barnett drove up the pitch with great enthusiasm and confidence, dispatching his opposite number with ease, before picking out Elliot Lee in the box.

Wrexham’s number 38 rose highest and produced a great glancing header, but his effort drifted just wide of the left-post much to the relief of Notts County.

Not content with a narrow lead, Parkinson’s side continued in their pursuit of a crucial second goal, and they almost did just that in the 56th minute.

James McClean found Will Boyle directly from a corner, and the defender almost netted his second goal in the space of a week.

Boyle climbed highest to connect with the set-piece, but his bouncing header cannoned against the underside of the crossbar with Ashby-Hammond all but beaten.

Three minutes passed, with the game continuing to move at an impressive pace, and Okonkwo made yet another vital save for the Red Dragons as he denied Scott Robertson’s first-time effort.

McGoldrick later had the ball in Wrexham’s net with 20 minutes remaining, but it was instantly ruled out for handball against the ex-Republic of Ireland international prior to his strike on goal.

Ashby-Hammond was yet again called into action on several occasions, as Mullin and Jacob Mendy both tested the young keeper in the search of a second goal to double Wrexham’s advantage.

It didn't matter that Wrexham couldn't grab a late goal, as they held on magnificently through seven minutes of added-time to secure a vital three points to climb back up the Sky Bet League Two table. 

Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo, Cleworth, O'Connell, Boyle, Barnett (Mendy 78’), Jones (Young 88’), Cannon, Lee, McClean (C), Mullin (Marriott 78’), Fletcher (Palmer 78’).

Subs Not Used: McNicholas, Tozer, Bolton.

Notts County: Ashby-Hammond, Cameron (C) (Chicksen 79’), Crowley, Langstaff, Jones, Nemane, Baldwin, Bostock (Colkett 82’), McGoldrick, Robertson (Austin 82’), Warner (Macari 79’).  

Subs Not Used: Stone, Rawlinson, O’Brien.

Match Attendance: 12,532 (1,147)*

*The highest attendance for a league game at the STōK Cae Ras since March 1980 (Shrewsbury Town).

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