Preview: Salisbury City (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)

Ryan Flynn

Wrexham face a long journey south tomorrow to a venue where we enjoyed immediate success.

Our first trip to Salisbury saw Brian Little’s Wrexham hit the top of the table. Yes, you read that sentence right! It’s easy to forget that there was a brief interlude of hope in Little’s otherwise depressing reign at The Racecourse. At the start of our first campaign in the Conference we managed to string together a couple of wins and a victory at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium meant we scaled the heights of the division!

We actually got off to a poor start as Nat Brown went off injured after eight minutes and before we could reorganise we fell behind two minutes later. However an incisive run by Shaun Whalley ended in him equalising just before the break and in the second half we took total control. Jeff Louis put us ahead, and we took a grip on the match when we went 3-1 up through an own goal which nonetheless has been credited to Louis, despite the fact that he made no contact on the cross before it was deflected in!

Whalley added another in the last minute and Wrexham basked in the sunshine as their place at the top of the league was confirmed by results elsewhere. It wouldn’t last though: we lost four of our next five games to the likes of Grays Athletic and Rushden and Diamonds, and Little was out of a job.

That result, surprisingly, was also the high point of our history against Salisbury. It was the first time we played the side from Wiltshire, and although their history since then has been one of demotion and collapse, we’ve struggled against them ever since. In fact, we haven’t won any of our subsequent four games against them.

When we returned south the following season we were a resolutely mid-table side. After a nondescript first half, Christian Smith gave us the lead half way through the second period, but Matt Tubbs, who would return to haunt us in a Crawley shirt, gave us a taste of what was to come with an 89th minute equaliser which split the points.

We also played at Salisbury in the FA Trophy three seasons ago, but unlike Andy Morrell, Saunders wasn’t about to take the competition seriously. He selected a second string outfit, notable for the debut of Lee Fowler and an exploratory first selection of Nat Knight-Percival, at the time suffering some rather insipid form as a winger, as a centre back.

The under strength eleven didn’t play too badly, but Fowler conceded an unnecessary penalty just before the half hour from which the only goal of the game was scored.

Our home record against Salisbury isn’t impressive, as we have failed to beat them either time they North Wales. In February 2009 Ryan Flynn gave us an early lead but we ended up drawing 1-1, and the following season Gareth Taylor’s goal wasn’t enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat.

Joslain Mayebi makes his 75th league appearance for Wrexham tomorrow.

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