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 travel to Hyde seeking our first win there, but at least for the first time a Wrexham side is going there with some idea of what to expect. This is a venerable rivalry, one of Wrexham’s oldest in league football, but our previous two matches there were rather well spaced out. It seems rather unlikely that anyone who made the trip last season would have seen us play there before as the two matches were played one hundred and twenty three years apart!
Last season’s trip to Hyde represented a big bucket of cold water in the face as we came down from the glory of winning the FA Trophy at Wembley in emphatic style.
We went down 2-0 to the home side, a result which put a serious dent in our hopes of winning the title. A crowd of 1846 attended, which surprisingly isn’t the largest recorded crowd to see Wrexham play at Hyde. Our only previous match there, back in November 1890, was witnessed by the suspiciously round figure of exactly two thousand fans. It’s unlikely that as many travelled from Wrexham as they did last March though, as 1124 Wrexham fans travelled north to celebrate their Wembley triumph to make up a remarkable sixty percent of the total crowd!
But as I said, they didn’t find much to enjoy once they arrived. We went behind after half an hour and conceded the second in the final minute to go down to a 2-0 defeat which was, obviously, our first at Hyde.
The sense that we were witnessing the mirror image of our big day at Wembley was made complete when, with the score at 1-0 and the match still there to be saved, Johnny Hunt stepped up to take a penalty. Having converted the spot kick which won us the FA Trophy, six days later he missed at Ewen Fields to cap a miserable afternoon.
That previous visit to Hyde had taken place in our first season of competitive league football. We were then in the Combination League and faced Hyde FC’s direct ancestors, Hyde United, who can claim to be the fifth team to play us in a league match. Having lost at Gorton Villa and drawn at Northwich Victoria in our two previous away games, we went to Hyde still looking for our first ever away league victory, but we were to be frustrated. The match, played out in front of that conveniently rounded-up crowd, ended in a 1-1 draw with Abel Hayes scoring the only goal.
By the way, we would be kept waiting for nearly three more months before finally getting that initial away league victory, but it would be worth the wait. Two goals from William Turner and further strikes by Arthur Lea and Jack Roberts earned us a memorable 4-2 victory on the home patch of our greatest rivals, Chester City!
An away win tomorrow would feel similarly special: we’ve won twice on the road this season, and need a victory to avoid equalling the least away successes we’ve enjoyed before the new year in the Conference.