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.
And so we renew acquaintances at last with Grimsby, whom we last came across on that momentous day at Wembley last March.
Our FA Trophy victory over the Mariners might have come via a penalty shoot-out, but that drama came only after an emphatic performance which ought to have been rewarded with more than a 1-1 draw. However, failing to turn domination into goals is nothing new in this fixture as we’ve had problems piercing Grimsby’s defence in recent encounters. Kevin Thornton’s goal was our first past them in 279 minutes, and that came from the penalty spot. In open play, our last goal in this fixture came 318 minutes ago, when Chris Westwood got his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw in April 2012.
Grimsby have kept clean sheets in four of our last nine clashes, and are unbeaten in their last two visits to The Racecourse, having followed that 2-2 draw with a drab 0-0 last season. Town have tended to go home from North Wales happy in recent years, as we’ve won just four of our last twelve home games against them.
Not that they’ve ever really dished out a thrashing to us on our own patch, but Town have consistently found a way to get a result here, achieving their best winning margin of 2-0 seven times in twenty eight matches.
Take out a fantastic run of results against them spread between 1925 and 1972 when we won ten consecutive home games against them, and our total of fifteen wins at The Racecourse doesn’t look too clever.
The last time we beat them at home was in January 2011, and even then it looked like Town would hold out for their customary clean sheet. However, late goals from Jay Harris and Andy Morrell clinched our first home win over them in five years.
Our last home defeat to The Mariners was a 2-1 defeat in December 2005 which saw Mark Jones grab our goal.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Back in May 1955 we enjoyed receiving Grimsby as we won 5-0 on the last day of the season. Eric Betts got two with Arthur Gwatkin, Ron Hewitt and Billy Green getting the others.
Another emphatic home win came in September 1953, and it was notable for the only Wrexham hat trick against Grimsby. Tommy Tilston got to keep the match ball after a 4-0 win played out in front of the best crowd to have come to watch this game at The Racecourse, 13,748.
We won’t see that many fans tomorrow, of course, but at least we won’t threaten the lowest attendance for a Wrexham-Grimsby match, achieved in November 1989 when 1,658 saw us lose 1-0.
Tilston is our equal top scorer in this fixture having ended up with five goals against Town, a total which was later equalled by Dave Smallman. Hewitt, Arfon Griffiths, Graham Whittle and Chris Armstrong stand two goals further back.