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.
We welcome Woking to The Racecourse hoping to emulate the successful result we managed against them last season.
The match took place on the first day of the season, and we got off on the right foot with an impressive 3-1 win. Rob Ogleby and Dean Keates both hit the net before the break, and an attempted Woking fightback was halted when Mark Creighton launched himself at a corner to score with a typically heroic header.
The Cards’ previous visit to North Wales was less of a happy occasion for us though. The game took place shortly after Christmas 2008 and Marc Williams gave us the lead with a header from a Wes Baynes corner, but with quarter of an hour left Woking equalised to emerge with a point.
Overall, our record against Woking isn’t great. We’ve lost one and drawn one against them away from home, so that 3-1 win is the only success we’ve enjoyed against them in four attempts. Furthermore, our defence has yet to keep a clean sheet against them.
Achieving that feat would be a real treat for Andy Morrell, as our problems fielding a settled back four have been remarkable this season. In fact, if you have a look at the facts you’ll see just how disrupted Morrell’s plans have been. Frankly, when you weigh it all up it’s remarkable we haven’t conceded more!
Believe it or not, in fifteen games we’ve had to use twelve different central defensive combinations! Those partnerships range from the thirty five minutes Neil Ashton and David Artell spent together against Southport to the Artell-Leon Clowes pairing which has been together for three minutes short of four hours. In the context of Wrexham’s season that’s virtually an eternity: we ought to get them an anniversary gift!
Just to emphasise the disruption Morrell has had to deal with, Artell’s partnerships with Clowes and Junior Ntame are the only pairings which have managed more than the equivalent of two games together this season.
We’ve had to contend with injuries, suspensions and some bizarre mishaps: in consecutive games a centre back has been injured in the warm-up and withdrawn from the squad! Unsurprisingly, continuity has suffered as a result. Morrell has been able to select an unchanged back four just four times this season, and on two of those occasions one of them broke down.
There have also been just four occasions when Morrell has named the same central defensive partnership for consecutive games. In total we’ve already used seven different players at centre back in fifteen games!
I must admit that a rather remarkable statistic passed me by a couple of weeks ago. When Adrian Cieslewicz came on as a substitute at Salisbury he became the first Wrexham player in history to make a hundred appearances off the bench for the club.
We’ve a current player who is well on the way to challenging that record though. If Rob Ogleby plays tomorrow it’ll be his fiftieth appearance for Wrexham, and thirty three of them have already come off the bench!