Leader Preview: Wrexham FC v Oxford United

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.

Lee Trundle after his incredible hat trick against Oxford in 2001
Lee Trundle after his incredible hat trick against Oxford in 2001

Wrexham seek to revive our glorious FA Cup reputation tonight as we look for only our third FA Cup second round win this millennium!

Indeed, this is only the fifth time we’ve got this far in the competition in that time, having memorably beaten Brentford away in 2011, lost unluckily to a late Swindon goal two years earlier and had contrasting luck in two ties at Scunthorpe, winning 2-0 there in 2006 but losing by the same result in 2004.

We’re due some joy against Oxford in front of goal as we haven’t scored past them in exactly four and a half hours! The last Wrexham player to beat a United goalkeeper was Jeff Louis in the last minute of our most recent victory over them, back in August 2008. Steve Evans got the opener and Louis capped things off to secure a 2-0 win. Since then we’ve played them three times and lost them all 1-0!

That was the final win of a period of domination for us in this fixture. Until then we’d enjoyed a run of thirteen matches unbeaten against the Us, winning ten, which ended in April 2009 in unfortunate circumstances. James Constable headed the only goal deep into injury time past stand-in goalkeeper Ashley Westwood after Gunnar Nielsen had been forced off injured and Dean Saunders had no replacement on the bench.

Constable, who needs six more goals to overtake Ron Atkinson’s brother Graham and become Oxford’s all time top scorer, also scored the only goal the last time the sides met at The Racecourse, in September 2009.

That defeat put a blemish on our superb home record against United. It was their first win at The Racecourse in eleven tries, and the first time they’d kept a clean sheet here.

Even the rare occasions when they returned home with a point could be depressing for them: in April 2006 they managed a 1-1 draw, but unfortunately for them it was the result which confirmed their relegation to the Conference and just to rub their noses in it they lost goalkeeper Andrea Guatelli with a serious neck injury in the build-up to Matt Crowell’s goal.

Oxford drew their first four games in North Wales, and since then we’ve won six, drawn one and lost one against them at The Racecourse.

Our best win in that run of results was in March 2001 when we pulled off a stunning victory. We had to come back from behind three times, each time through a superb goals from Lee Trundle, who hat trick was surely as spectacular as anything a Wrexham player has managed, a forty yard lob and a deft finish from long range with the outside of his left foot being particularly memorable.

Still, it looked like the game would end in a thrilling draw until Darren Ferguson struck twice in the last two minutes of the game to earn a 5-3 win. With two other goals to his credit in this fixture, Ferguson is our top scorer against United.

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