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.
Andy Morrell goes into tomorrow’s FA Cup tie looking to build on a terrifically impressive record in cup matches.
The last time he lost a cup tie was when we crashed out of the FA Cup in the first round last season following a bizarre 4-2 loss against Alfreton.
We dominated the opening half hour after taking a second minute lead through a Neil Ashton penalty but Joslain Mayebi was to have a decisively unhappy day in goal. First he dropped a free kick to let Alfreton equalise, and after an hour he caught a corner but was then deemed to have elbowed a striker in retaliation to a challenge when the ball was in the air. The referee pointed to the spot and sent Mayebi off, exposing Anthony Coughlin to a torrid last half hour.
Alfreton scored the penalty and, as Wrexham pushed forwards with ten men, exploited the gaps left at the back. Soon afterwards we were 3-1 down, and although Danny Wright pulled one back, we were caught on the break in the final minute and went down to a 4-2 defeat.
Since then we’ve been unbeaten in six cup ties. Admittedly we did lose in the FA Trophy semi-final at Gainsborough Trinity, but we still won the tie, triumphing 4-3 on aggregate.
Overall, Morrell has won nine cup matches, drawing four and losing four, but there are extenuating circumstances surrounding some of those defeats. Apart from the loss at Gainsborough which turned out to be enough to get us to Wembley, we lost an FA Trophy match to Hinckley when Morrell opted to select a reserve team, while we also lost a Welsh Cup tie to Airbus when he was forced to field the youth team because we were beating Brentford in the FA Cup at the same time.
Every time Wrexham have faced Hyde in the modern era the home side has scored twice. We beat them 2-0 at The Racecourse last season, but when we went to their place they triumphed by the same scoreline. This season a remarkably controversial clash saw us continue the pattern, but two highly contentious penalties meant that Hyde grabbed a couple too as the game ended in a draw.
Tomorrow’s game will be played on the anniversary of an auspicious cup match for Wrexham. Thirty six years ago Arfon Griffiths’ side took a notable scalp in the third round of the League Cup as they defeated top division Bristol City 1-0, with Bobby Shinton scoring the goal five minutes after the break. We would go on to reach the last eight of the competition that season for the only time in our history, not to mention getting to the same stage in the FA Cup and winning the Welsh Cup. Perhaps tomorrow’s cup tie could kick off a similar season of cup exploits!
Neil Ashton plays in his three hundred and fiftieth career match tomorrow while Steve Tomassen makes his fiftieth first team appearance, having gained experience in the League of Wales last season at Airbus.