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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Harrogate Town

Wrexham look to make it 3 wins in a row.

11 March 2024

Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Harrogate Town

Wrexham look to make it 3 wins in a row.

11 March 2024

We're into the last 10 games of the season, and Wrexham are the only side in the top 5 with more home games than away. Harrogate, meanwhile, need to end a winless run to keep the play-offs within reach.

THE WREXHAM ANGLE

Last Saturday's impressive win at Morecambe, coming after the demolition of Accrington Stanley, means Wrexham have a spring in our step as we approach a game under the Stok Cae Ras floodlights. The back to back wins were achieved with an unchanged team, but Phil Parkinson might still consider rotation having only used 3 late substitutes at the Mazuma Stadium.

Having had a pain-killing injection last week, Paul Mullin will have to be handled carefully, although his sparkling form in the last 3 games means Parkinson will be loath to leave him out. His rekindled partnership with Ollie Palmer has been a feature of Wrexham's last two performances, and with Steven Fletcher and Jack Marriott on the bench, and Sam Dalby also in reserve, Parkinson has enviable options up front.

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Equally impressive in recent games has been James McClean's move into the centre of the pitch. With Tom O'Connor returning to traiming, Parkinson will also have terrific competition for places in midfield.

LAST MEETING

THE OPPOSING VIEW

When Harrogate beat Colchester a month ago, they leapt up to 8th place, level on goal difference with the side above them, AFC Wimbledon. That win was a continuation of some impressive form: 13 points out of 15, and the only points they dropped were in a 1-1 draw at Stockport which saw them hold the lead for a quarter of an hour. 

Since then, things have gone badly for them, and they find themselves 6 points off the play-off zone in 14th place. Their 6 subsequent matches have yielded just 2 points, and amongst their 4 losses was an embarrassing 9-2 defeat at Mansfield. To be fair, they responded to that loss with an impressive draw at Crewe, but 3 consecutive home defeats, most recently to Crawley on Saturday, have left them desperately needing to turn their form around. Manager Simon Weaver, the longest-serving boss in the EFL described back-to-back defeats to Walsall and Newport as "one of the worst weeks I've had in football in 30 years."

Goals haven't come easily: outside the bottom two only Gillingham have scored fewer in League Two. Weaver bemoaned his side's lack of ruthlessness last Saturday to the Harrogate Advertiser:

“There were more balls in the box, certainly, and there’s been an absence of that in recent games, but today we should have scored more. There were gilt-edged chances, there were gilt-edged chances falling on the edge of the box as well.

"So that can't be forgotten, the step forward in terms of putting the opposition under more pressure by not trying to perfect the game. But still, there was a side-foot pass edge of the box by one of our players, a gifted player, but that's not hurting anyone with 30 seconds left to play. You've got to put the ball between the six-yard box and penalty spot and put more pressure on.

"The game has evolved and changed, you know, in terms of the first two thirds of the game, but you still see countless goals scored in the Football League by simply putting it in the danger area, where it goes in off people’s bodies.”

“It's frustrating really because I thought we'd earned the right, through our first-half performance, to go and build on that and get a good home win, and to be honest, I’d have settled for a scruffy 1-0 in not easy conditions with the wind. The first half was a bit of a timid affair but we did enough to deserve the one-goal lead.

"But the second half, we just can’t get going. Everyone said the right things at half-time, but very few players did enough in terms of the energy side of it to really make us believe that we weren't falling into a drifting situation in the game.

“I was thinking that we might have to make four or five changes 55 minutes in, and that's hard to fathom because later on when we're really throwing the kitchen sink and everyone's ultra positive because time's running out, we really tried to put them to the sword and test them.

"The energy was there after 85 minutes, but there was almost apathy and real tentative state of mind just after half-time and we have got to get to the bottom of it.”

Despite the downturn in fortunes, a surprising statistic suggests The Sulphurites are a real threat on the road. Remarkably, they have the 2nd best away record in the division, with only Mansfield Town enjoying more away wins.

HEAD TO HEAD

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Our record against Harrogate Town picked up dramatically when Akil Wright scored past them in our FA Cup qualifying round replay in October 2018. Until that point we’d played 332 minutes against them and never scored. Luke Young added a second to secure our place in the first round.

Previously we’d travelled to Wetherby Road twice and played out two goalless draws, but Harrogate had already enjoyed success at our expense at The Stok Cae Ras in the FA Trophy. Dean Keates selected a heavily rotated side, and we were punished by ex-Wrexham target man Mark Beck, who scored both goals in our 2-0 defeat.

Beck struck again on the final day of the 2018-19 season to give The Sukphurites an early lead in a game of little consequence as both sides were already assured a spot in the National League play-offs. Jason Oswell equalised just before the break and Nicky Deverdics hit the winner with 10 minutes left.

Neither side went up that season, but the following campaign was an historic one for Town. They won the FA Trophy and finished second in the league, beating Notts County in the play-off final to rise into the EFL for the first time. Wrexham struggled that season but did well against The Sulphurites. An early Bobby Grant goal gave us the lead at home, but we conceded an equaliser with 9 minutes left. The return match saw us earn a memorable 2-0 win through a James Jennings free kick and a fine solo strike from JJ Hooper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#DATAANORAK

TODAY’S OTHER FIXTURES

AFC Wimbledon v Gillingham
Bradford City v Forest Green Rovers
Colchester United v Doncaster Rovers
Crawley Town v Notts County
Crewe Alexandra v Sutton United
Grimsby Town v Milton Keynes Dons
Newport County v Morecambe
Swindon Town v Accrington Stanley
Tranmere Rovers v Mansfield Town
Walsall v Barrow
 
An obvious place to start tonight is AFC Wimbledon's clash with Gillingham. One point spearates them, with The Gills in the last play-off position, so a home win will put The Dons into the top 7. Ninth placed Walsall have been on a great run, their defeat last Saturday ending a 5-game winning streak, and they have a chance to bounce back in style as they welcome 6th placed Barrow.
 
A couple of weeks ago we saw that Forest Green Rovers are much improved under Steve Cotterill, with 3 wins in their last 6 matches, and they now stand just two points behind safety. They have a tough trip to Bradford as they look to hunt down Colchester, who entertain Doncaster Rovers.
 
Stockport face Salford on Thursday, so it's a chance for us and MK Dons to put pressure on them: The Hatters could drop from 2nd to 4th by the end of tonight's games.

POTENTIAL MILESTONES

Phil Parkinson's 800th league match as manager.


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