Leader Preview: Nuneaton (a)

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.

Xavi Valero in familar pose: concedng a goal.
Xavi Valero in familar pose: concedng a goal.

Our last two matches, correctly identified by Andy Morrell as the first time he’s lost back to back games as a manager, have certainly dampened the mood going into tomorrow’s game.

If we fail to win at Nuneaton it will be the longest run of games Morrell has gone without victory, and the first time since March 2010 that we’ve failed to get a win in six matches.

The defeat against Chester was the twelfth game in a row that we haven’t kept a clean sheet, which is uncharacteristic after years of defensive solidity. That’s the longest time we’ve gone without repelling the opposition in the Conference as we had two eleven game runs without defensive perfection in our first season in non league. To find the last time we went longer without a clean sheet you have to go back to a run of thirteen matches in the 2004-5 season, a sequence which included the memorable but short-lived Wrexham career of Xabi Valero.

Our away matches this season haven’t tended to lack for drama, and if that pattern is repeated tomorrow then we’ll be bucking a trend, as our last couple of games in Nuneaton haven’t offered much in terms of goals!

Last season the sides clashed at Liberty Way for the first time in ninety two years, and frankly the game was hardly worth the wait! Nuneaton had concerns about the reliability of their goalkeeper, Ben McNamara, who was pressed into standing in after the first choice keeper was injured and had looked shaky when called upon earlier in the season.

With a strong wind at Wrexham’s backs, the home side must have been nervous as the match kicked off, but they needn’t have worried as The Dragons barely troubled McNamara in the course of a very drab opening period, and things didn’t change in the second as the sides played out a dull goalless draw.

In fact, it was Joslain Mayebi who played the more important role in the match, making an excellent double save in the second half to preserve our clean sheet.

Our previous matches against Nuneaton came against their previous incarnation, called Nuneaton St. Nicholas. We played them for the two seasons before we entered the Football League in the Birmingham and District League and we held the upper hand in those days, winning three of our four encounters.

Having said that, the first time the sides met was also a goalless draw. It took place in September 1919, and was our fourth match after the resumption of football after the end of the First World War. That might explain the impressive crowd of four thousand, eager for some trivial entertainment to take their minds off the horror of the previous five years.

There was an even better turn out the following season, as six thousand came to watch us visit the midlands, and this time we didn’t let them off the hook.

David Jardine got two goals and further strikes from Reg Jones and John Taylor earned us a 4-2 victory.

Coming back to the present day, Neil Ashton makes his 150th Wrexham appearance tomorrow.

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