Leader Preview: Wrexham FC v Gresley

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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We’ve never played Gresley before, but if things go well for him their name could feature prominently when one of our players looks back on his career.

Billy Barr revealed last Saturday that Andy Morrell will be starting tomorrow, which would mean he’s named himself in the first eleven for the first time in seven months, when he lined up at Wembley for the play-off final against Newport County.

The last time he actually completed the full ninety minutes was exactly a year and a week ago, and like tomorrow’s game it was in the first round of the FA Trophy. Morrell certainly enjoyed his extended pitch time as he scored a hat trick in a 5-0 win over Rushall Olympic which started off our run to victory at Wembley.

Should Morrell match that feat he’d be very close to becoming just the eighth player in the club’s history to score 100 goals. His brilliant volley against Forest Green Rovers last Saturday puts him on 95 goals so he’s just five short of matching Tommy Bamford, Arfon Griffiths, Karl Connolly, Graham Whittle, Gary Bennett, Ron Hewitt and Tommy Bannan.

Morrell currently stands in tenth place in the list of Wrexham’s all time scorers. Albert Kinsey finished his Wrexham career on 99 goals but a goal tomorrow would lift Morrell level with Billy Ashcroft in ninth place on 96.

Top twenty scorers in Wrexham's history.

Top twenty scorers in Wrexham’s history.

Morrell has played in 262 games for Wrexham, so he can’t become the fastest player to score a ton for Wrexham. Bamford managed the feat after just 117 matches, and Bennett and Bannan had also already passed the milestone by this point in their careers. However, Morrell has 46 games to get the five goals he needs to reach a hundred goals before Whittle and become the fourth fastest player to a century. The main obstacle to achieving that would seem to be whether he wants to play for long enough to do it.

A strike tomorrow would also add to his remarkable scoring record in cup competitions. He has 29 goals for Wrexham in cup ties from just 33 starts and 10 substitute appearances, and a goal against Gresley would mean he becomes the fifth player to hit 30 for Wrexham in cup matches after Connolly, Bamford, Bennett and Dixie McNeil.

dixie_mcneil_newcastle

Two of Wrexham’s great goalscorers: Graham Whittle and Dixie McNeil

That win over Rushall improved our erratic record in the first round of the FA Trophy. We’ve played at this stage five times, winning three.

Funnily enough we’ve been drawn at home each time, and kicked things off well in our first season in non-league football by beating Mansfield Town 2-1 thanks to goals in the first eleven minutes from Jon Brown and Ashley Westwood.

We were also successful in 2010 when goals by Jay Harris and David Brown helped a lightly rotated side to a 2-0 win over Kidderminster, but experimentation with our line-ups has cost us dear. Two seasons ago a second string side lost Hinkley to 2-1 despite Glen Little’s first goal for us, and we also lost four seasons ago, drawing 0-0 against Altrincham and losing the replay 1-0.

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