Leader Preview: Wrexham FC V Forest Green Rovers

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.

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The circumstances of Danny Wright’s departure in the Summer, not to mention the arrival at the New Lawn of another former Wrexham striker in Andy Mangan, has turned this into a potentially feisty encounter. Previous meetings between the sides haven’t tended to be heated, although there have been a couple of exceptions to that rule.

When the sides met at The Racecourse the season before last it was a clash which was played in an increasingly bad tempered atmosphere, partly because Norwood’s goal celebrations irked the home fans, but more importantly because the course of the match became progressively more disastrous for us as the game wore on!

We started the match needing a win to maintain our pursuit of Fleetwood Town at the top of the table, and had hot a fine vein of form, having won our last four and kept a clean sheet in each of those matches.

The game started promisingly enough, as Forest Green looked like being accommodating visitors.  Jake Speight opened the scoring in the twentieth minute from the spot, and things looked routine. However, we didn’t turn our superiority into a second goal and were duly punished. Rovers equalised with twenty-five minutes left and, as a stunned home side took risks looking for a winner, were able to score a winner on the break in the ninety fourth minute.

That is Forest Green’s only victory at The Racecourse to date. They came close to achieving that feat on their first visit, in March 2009, but for the second time that season Jeff Louis denied them with a late goal, this time securing a 1-1 draw with an 86th minute strike.

The other three games between the sides in North Wales have ended in Wrexham wins. We beat them 2-1 last season in a top of the table match, Adrian Cieslewicz striking with two well-taken goals and Reece Styche maintaining the bad tempered tone from the season before by earning himself a red card.

We also clinched a 1-0 win in December 2009, again courtesy of a late winner as Wes Baynes thrashed in an eight ninth minute free kick to rescue a dreadful game from the goalless obscurity it deserved. The following season we beat them again, as Mangan grabbed an early goal which Andy Morrell added to. Although Rovers pulled one back, it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat.

Mangan has a terrific scoring record in this fixture, having scored four goals in it, three of which were for Forest Green. Baynes is our top scorer against Rovers with three goals, one ahead of Louis and Marc Williams.

The latter duo played a major part in perhaps the most significant clash between the sides to date.  Dean Saunders’ first match as manager of Wrexham was at Forest Green, and it ended in a dramatic 3-2 win as Louis got a last minute winner, cheekily tapping a goalbound shot by Williams over the line to steal a hat trick from his strike partner!

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