BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES | Wrexham AFC vs Eastleigh

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Fri 07 Dec 2018

Eastleigh won promotion to the Conference Premier for the first time in the club’s history for the 2014/15 season and have stayed there ever since, meaning their trip to the Racecourse on Saturday will be the tenth match between Wrexham and the Spitfires.

Wrexham’s win in Hampshire back in August was their third in nine previous matches against Eastleigh, while there have been five draws and one Eastleigh win.

We’ve dived into the archives to pick out two of those nine matches – one to remember, and one to forget…

 

Best of times: Wrexham 3-0 Eastleigh (27/09/2014)

All derby defeats hurt, make no mistake of that, but the nature of the loss that preceded Wrexham’s first ever game against Eastleigh stung as badly as any.

We will spare you the details of that evening at the Swansway – some memories are best kept locked away, even in a feature like this – but suffice to say, the Dragons needed to bounce back.

Kevin Wilkin’s side welcomed to the Spitfires to the Racecourse five days later, with the newly-promoted side having made a strong start to life in the fifth tier – five wins and four draws from their first 11 games.

Wilkin brought experienced duo Mark Carrington and Dean Keates back into the starting XI for the game, for which 2,692 fans were at the Racecourse, and those there were rewarded with a much more accomplished performance.

Once again, there was an early lead – this time provided by Elliott Durrell on 12 minutes, who picked defender Michael Green’s pocket and cut inside to score his first Dragons’ goal.

Among those vilified for missing chances the previous Monday, it was the perfect antidote and Neil Ashton’s inch-perfect tackle on Ben Strevens maintained the lead seven minutes later.

When Louis Moult beat Green and crossed for Wes York to stroke in the second on 26 minutes, meanwhile, the hosts moved into cruise control.

A brighter start to the second-half from Eastleigh aside, the Dragons never looked like losing this game thereafter and substitute Andy Bishop wrapped up the points moments later.

The decision to bring Bishop on for Moult with 20 minutes remaining was not universally popular with the fans but moments later, with his first touch, the striker was converting Connor Jennings’ cross to score.

It meant a return to winning ways for Wrexham – the most convincing win of the season to date – and ensured the memories of five days earlier could be firmly banished.

What they said: “That Wrexham were able to pick themselves up after such bitter disappointment says as much about manager Kevin Wilkin’s motivational skills as it does about the character of the players in his squad.” (Daily Post)

Line-ups

Wrexham: Bachmann, Carrington, Smith, Hudson, Ashton, Clarke, Keates, Durrell, Jennings (Holman 75), Moult (Bishop 70), York (Hunt 80).

Unused subs: White, Tomassen

Eastleigh: Flitney, Green, Spence, Reid, Collins, Reason, Evans, Midson, Strevens (Stanley 67), Constable (McAllister 67), Fleetwood.

Unused subs: Todd, Smith, Helm

 

Worst of times: Wrexham 2-3 Eastleigh (26/09/2015)

Wrexham have only lost once to Eastleigh but that does not make this high-scoring match at the Racecourse early in Gary Mills’ first season any easier to take.

The Dragons’ home record under Mills going into the game was played six, won five and drawn one – scoring 13 goals in the process, and that included the goalless draw with Grimsby that preceded this game.

Perhaps it was complacency that caused their downfall at home to managerless Eastleigh then, and the first-half was certainly lethargic.

That said, Wrexham could have been two or three up before the visitors first foray forward on 20 minutes ended with Jai Reason firing through Blaine Hudson’s legs and into the far corner.

Five minutes before the break, Lee Cook and Joe Partington combined for the latter to find Andy Drury and his brilliant shot looped over Cameron Belford and into the top corner.

Whatever was said at half-time reinvigorated the hosts, however, as did the introduction of Javan Vidal and Lee Fowler off the bench.

Ten minutes after the restart Wes York rounded Lewis Noice and slotted in to get the Dragons off the mark.

Manny Smith then crossed for Sean Newton to head home on 75 minutes and it was one-way traffic in front of 4,708 fans at the Racecourse as Wrexham sought a winner.

Dom Vose could have won it for Wrexham with eight minutes remaining, after Vidal’s great run, but fired straight at Noice.

And the Dragons paid the price – Partington crossing for Ben Strevens to head home with three minutes to earn Eastleigh all three points.

It got worse for Wrexham too, as Jamal Fyfield picked up a second yellow card deep in stoppage time for a bad foul on Ross Lafayette – just ten minutes after his first booking for fouling the same player.

What they said: “It’s not unfair to say Wrexham looked lethargic in the opening 45 minutes; they lacked the spark and tempo that had been so prevalent in their 12 games so far.” (Daily Post)

Line-ups

Wrexham: Belford, Smith, Hudson, Moke (Carrington 61), Newton, Fyfield, Evans (Vidal 46), Jennings, York, Smith (Fowler 46), Vose.

Unused subs: Jackson, Logan

Eastleigh: Noice, Partington, Green, Drury, Harding, Evans, Reason (Payne 76), Strevens, Cook, Constable (Midson 46), Odubade (Lafayette 60).

Unused subs: Lee, Davies

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