Alfreton Town FC v Wrexham FC Preview

Joe Clarke's moment of genius at Alfreton
Joe Clarke’s moment of genius at Alfreton

Who will step up to the plate and make themselves a hero tomorrow? If the previous pattern is followed, then somebody will, as both our games at The Impact Arena have ended in victory and been memorable for some notable individual feats.

Our first visit there came back in August 2011 and Alfreton, newly promoted to the fifth tier of English football for the first time, were full of energy for the visit of an ex-Football League club. However, they were hampered by the bizarre decision of their manager, Nicky Law, to go man for man against a Wrexham side which was passing fluidly with Lee Fowler pulling the strings. The result was chaos amongst the home side, who often looked unsure of where they should go as they were pulled into unfamiliar areas, and there were a series of running arguments between the players and the bench as Wrexham picked them apart.

Jake Speight scored first, but Alfreton pulled a goal back from a set piece: Nat Knight-Percival failed to deal with a free kick into the box and, swinging wildly in an attempt to clear the ball, he caught his man. Alfreton equalised from the spot, but it would prove a temporary reprieve.

At the other end Speight, who had failed either to find the net or hit some form in his first four games for the club, was invigorated by his goal and encouraged by the confusion in the back four he was up against. Time and again he drew his man up the pitch then span and burst in behind him, and he had a hat trick to his name before the game was an hour old.

He then capped a superb performance by dribbling round the back of the Town defence and pulling the ball back for Mathias Pogba to complete a 4-1 win.

Our match there last season was very different in nature, but offered a similar platform for a Wrexham player to shine. It was the match when Joe Clarke had his moment of genius.

Even the weather was a complete contrast to the first match. Instead of being played in late Summer sunshine, the game took place on a rather grim January night. More importantly, the home team were a very different proposition, putting in a performance which showed they were far from being the push overs they had been a season earlier.

Despite that, Neil Ashton gave us an early lead from a corner, but shortly after the half hour a spell of Alfreton pressure was rewarded by an equaliser.

The enormity of our task increased in the forty ninth minute when Danny Wright was sent off. The decision was a surprising one, as he’d already picked up a very harsh yellow for time wasting, and received his second for pushing a player in the back as he ran the ball out for a throw in, which hardly seemed to be a hanging offence. Billy Barr certainly saw things that way, and he was sent to the stand by the officious referee.

It looked like a point was the best Wrexham could hope for as they battled against the odds, but with a quarter of an hour left came a moment of sheer inspiration. A headed clearance fell to Clarke in midfield and he embarked upon a magnificent Lionel Messi-like run, slaloming through the heart of the Alfreton defence before finishing emphatically  to earn the win in the most heroic of fashions.

There’s something for the back four to aim at tomorrow as we’ve never kept a clean sheet against Alfreton in the sides’ six clashes.

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