Wrexham make the long trip to Dover Athletic on Saturday looking to improve one of the less favourable head-to-head records from the Dragons’ time in the National League.
Mike Fondop’s debut goal in the first game of last season, at the Crabble, ended a run of eight games without a win against Dover but it remains Wrexham’s only victory in this fixture.
On a scorching hot day in Kent, Sam Ricketts’ Wrexham delivered a positive start to what would prove a rollercoaster 2018-19 campaign.
But, as mentioned, that win was rare and there have been plenty of less memorable matches against Dover – resulting in four draws and five defeats in the other ten games.
We have revisited one of those defeats below, but first a reminder of Wrexham broke their Dover duck last season…
Best of times: Dover Athletic 0-1 Wrexham (04/08/2018)
A new manager and several new signings and loan acquisitions ensured Wrexham started the 2018-19 season in a positive mindset, after seeing their promotion bid fizzle out the previous year.
Sam Ricketts had three of his new signings in the team for the trip to the Crabble, in scorching hot conditions in Dover: Luke Young, Luke Summerfield and Mike Fondop.
Loanees Rob Lainton, in goal, and striker Stuart Beavon also started, while Jordan Maguire-Drew and Rekeil Pyke were on the bench.
After a long trip down, the Dragons were cheered on by 312 visiting fans in Kent but came within inches of going behind on 12 minutes when Jamie Allen’s long-range effort clattered the bar.
Fondop’s improvised debut goal ensured Wrexham took the lead on 29 minutes, however – the striker hooking the ball into the bottom corner, with his back to goal, from Summerfield’s cross.
It ended a spell of Wrexham pressure, to which the big striker had been central, but the Dragons were unable to press home their advantage or extend the lead.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Dover were handed a way back into the game when Akil Wright was judged to have fouled Inih Effiong in the area.
Lainton, on debut, pushed the penalty wide low to his right, however, and Wrexham survived to lead at the interval.
A scrappier second-half ensued, with neither side consistently threatening, but Summerfield’s set-piece deliveries did cause some bother.
Dover had the ball in the net on 88 minutes, but the referee’s whistle spared Wrexham after he gave a foul on Lainton.
Dover threw men forward in search of an equaliser, but Wrexham stood firm for a first win and first clean sheet of the season.
What they said: “Sam Ricketts won his first competitive game as Wrexham boss at Dover Athletic thanks to two of his new signings.” (BBC Sport)
Dover Athletic: Walker, Passley (Diarra 90+1), Connors, Lokko, Essam, Brundle, Allen, Effiong, Nortey, Schmoll, Gomis (Daniel 74).
Subs not used: Lewington, Okosieme, D Smith.
Wrexham: Lainton, Roberts, M Smith, Pearson, Jennings, Summerfield, Wright, Young, Rutherford (Carrington 82), Fondop (Pyke 80), Beavon (Maguire-Drew 57).
Subs not used: Dibble, Tharme.
Worst of times: Dover Athletic 2-0 Wrexham (20/01/2015)
A season which had, at times, promised so much was already ebbing away by the time Wrexham made the long trip to Dover in January.
Kevin Wilkin’s side had come close to stunning Premier League Stoke City just weeks earlier but league form – emphasised by a 4-0 defeat to Telford which preceded this trip.
But any hope Wilkin had of getting a response from his players did not materialise. The Daily Post’s Rob Griffiths wrote of the game, “It went without saying Wrexham needed a response from the loss to the Bucks, they got anything but as they were second best to a spirited and well organised Dover side.”
Tom Murphy took just 12 minutes to open the scoring at the Crabble – racing on to Andy Rafferty’s long goal kick and slotting past Andy Coughlin.
Coughlin was then at fault as Sean Raggett double the lead – the goalkeeper’s meek punch inviting the big defender to smash in a half-volley on 35 minutes.
Mark Carrington, the goalscorer against Stoke, missed a gilt-edged chance to pull one back on 55 minutes – dragging wide with the goal at his mercy.
But that was as good as it got for Wrexham, who were lucky not to fall further behind when Murphy’s effort beat Coughlin but smacked the post.
Dover pushed hard until the final whistle, keeping their foot on Wrexham’s throat, and Stefan Payne’s 88th-minute effort was ruled out for offside.
Still, the Whites nearly added a third on the stroke of full-time – Ricky Modeste’s low shot drawing a good save from Coughlin.
While a run to the FA Trophy final kept the season alive in one respect, Wrexham’s promotion hopes were already over. Defeat on penalties to North Ferriby United at Wembley spelled the end of Wilkin’s reign.
What they said: “And that for all intents and purposes is the death knell of Wrexham’s season.” (Daily Post)
Dover Athletic: Rafferty, Francis, Raggett, Orlu, Essam, Bellamy, Cogan (Modeste 82), Deverdics (Wynter 58), Sterling, Murphy, Payne (Reid 88).
Subs: Taiwo, Mekki.
Wrexham: Coughlin, Tomassen, Smith, Waterfall, Ashton, Carrington, Clarke, Keates (Bailey-Jones 77), York, Bishop, Moult.
Subs: Stephens, Harris, White, Whittington.