Wrexham are currently enjoying their longest unbeaten run against Newport County. Let’s hope they keep it going for one more game!
We haven’t lost in six matches against our South Walian opponents.
In fact, if Wrexham avoid defeat we’ll equal the longest unbeaten run we’ve ever enjoyed against Newport by going five games without losing to County. Overall, in forty-one matches we’ve tended to have the upper hand, winning eighteen and losing thirteen.
To a great extent that’s down to our recent form against them. We haven’t lost to them since February 2007, when we were defeated in a Welsh Premier Cup quarter-final under Brian Carey. Those were dark days: it was Carey’s tenth match in charge, and alarmingly he went into it still looking for his first win as manager.
It looked like it might arrive when Mike Carvill opened the scoring shortly after the break, but soon we were behind and went on to lose 2-1.
Since then we’ve played them six times, winning three and drawing the others.
Perhaps surprisingly, as we consider Newport to be derby rivals, there isn’t a massive amount of history behind this fixture. We’ve only clashed forty-one times, and apart from an FA Cup tie and a couple of Welsh Cup encounters in the 1920s, the fixture didn’t really get going until the late 50s.
Last season’s goalless draw at The Racecourse halted our best run of home wins against County, as we’d won the previous three against them. We’re unbeaten in eight home matches against them, stretching back to a 1-0 Welsh Cup defeat in March 1980, although that run could have ended last season but for an heroic last ditch tackle by Dean Keates which resulted in him breaking his collar bone. Not that that stopped him from returning to the pitch to ensure we had eleven men on the pitch, as we’d used all our substitutes!
In the league our home form is even more impressive: we haven’t lost a league game to Newport in North Wales since 1968! Furthermore, in our subsequent six home matches against them we’ve conceded just one goal, in a 4-1 win in March 1988.
That match took place as Newport were collapsing off the pitch, and it turned out to be their last season in the Football League. They were a sorry sight and Ollie Kearns put them to the sword, scoring the only hat trick a Wrexham player has managed in this fixture, with Kevin Russell getting the other goal.
Kearns’ goals in that match put him equal top of the list of our scorers against Newport, level with Arfon Griffiths, Albert Kinsey and Ray Smith.
Our best result against Newport came in the final of the now defunct Welsh Premier Cup in 2003. Having already enjoyed a terrific season, culminating in promotion to League One, we put the cherry on top with a 6-1 thumping of County, who to be fair were in the process of clawing themselves back up the pyramid and had done extremely well to get that far in the competition.
Still, Denis Smith’s side showed no mercy: indeed, amongst the scorers were some unexpected faces helping themselves to Newport’s buffet defending . Dennis Lawrence’s second minute opener wasn’t that much of a shock as he was always a threat from set pieces, but Jim Whitley goal, one of two in 162 matches for us, was a shock, and even Shaun Pejic tucked in, scoring one of the two goals he mustered in 209 appearances for Wrexham!
Lee Trundle grabbed two for himself and a certain Andy Morrell rounded off a phenomenal season with one as well, to take his tally for the campaign to thirty-four.
In fact, Newport matches have often been auspicious for our manager. Apart from scoring in a cup final against them, our 2-0 win against County earlier this season was his fiftieth as manager and two hundredth league game in a Wrexham shirt.