Leader Preview: Aldershot (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.

mickey_thomas_2It’s time to renew acquaintances with Aldershot twenty-two years after the sides last clashed.

That match, in March 1991, saw us fall behind early on and never get back on terms despite strikes by Gareth Owen and Geoff Hunter as we went down to a 3-2 loss.

That defeat merely added to the overall trend of our trips to Aldershot, as we’ve lost eleven of our seventeen matches there, winning just three times. Oddly, the pattern is essentially reversed at The Racecourse as they’ve never won in North Wales.

Our first win there came in September 1969, when Albert Kinsey opened the scoring and Arfon Griffiths secured a 2-0 win with a penalty.

Our other two successes were more dramatic. In September 1974 we fell behind early in the first half but recovered to win 2-1 through goals in the last quarter of an hour from Mickey Thomas and Dave Smallman.

The following season Mel Sutton gave us the lead but The Shots equalised before half time, only to see us once more take control with a couple of goals around the 75th minute mark. Brian Tinnion and Graham Whittle scored within two minutes of each other and although Aldershot swiftly pulled one back, we survived a nervous last ten minutes to clinch a 3-2 win.

Our worst experience there came in October 1985, when we crashed to a 6-0 defeat. It must have been a horrible experience for the fans who travelled from North Wales to watch the match, although there couldn’t have been many of them as the attendance was the lowest to see Wrexham play at The Recreation Ground: a mere 1165.

Our first match at Aldershot was a goalless draw in March 1961, and there hasn’t been a scoreless match between the two sides there since.

Our return to winning ways last Friday also saw Andy Morrell run up his fiftieth league win as Wrexham manager and narrowly miss out on another club record to add to his collection. He became the twelfth man to reach that milestone, but our early season wobble cost him a chance to claim the distinction of getting to fifty victories quicker than any of his predecessors.

The 2-0 defeat of Luton came in his 93rd match as boss, so the record of Ernie Blackburn still stands, but only just. He was the first Wrexham manager to achieve the feat, getting there in spectacular style with an 8-1 thrashing of Carlisle in March 1934 in which Tommy Bamford scored five goals, which is still a club record for a league match. That meant Blackburn got to fifty wins in 92 games, just one better than Morrell!

Games taken for Wrexham managers to reach 50 league wins.

To put his achievement into context, it took Dean Saunders 122 games to get to 50 wins, Denis Smith took 126, Arfon Griffiths 123 and Brian Flynn 164. John Neal comes third in the list at 103.

Another revealing stat which shows how quickly our expectations have risen: Brian Little and Brian Carey got twenty league wins between them.


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