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.
Depending on your perspective, we either have very little history with Nuneaton, or a surprising amount considering the distance which has been between us for most of our histories.
The obvious link, of course, is Kevin Wilkin. Having left Town to join us last March he has also brought a couple of players with him, suddenly creating a bond of sorts between two disparate clubs.
He had a 100% record in clashes between the sides last season, registering a couple of impressive wins to a tune of five goals to nil. However, he had to switch camps to achieve that personal double, as he followed up a 2-0 win for Nuneaton in September by moving to North Wales and leading The Dragons to a comprehensive victory against his old side in April.
The first half saw Wrexham subject Nuneaton to a real blitz, with Theo Bailey-Jones to the fore. The young winger hadn’t previously been selected by Wilkin, but was brought back from an unsuccessful loan spell at Colwyn Bay and given an unexpected start. He responded with a spectacular first half display which tormented Nuneaton left back Jordan Cranston until the unhappy defender was substituted at half time, an early taste of the abortive trial period he’d endure at The Racecourse during the close season!
Bizarrely, there was no score at half time despite Wrexham’s domination, but we soon rectified that after the break. Johnny Hunt opened the scoring nine minutes into the second half, Andy Bishop grabbed a second and Neil Ashton rounded off the scoring in the last minute when he drove in the rebound after his penalty had been saved
Hunt also opened the scoring when the sides met the previous season, in a match which was much less to Wilkin’s liking. Andy Morrell doubled the advantage by the half hour and Ashton made it three just before half time.
The second half offered Nuneaton no relief. Rob Ogleby and Adrian Cieslewicz took the score to 5-0 before Ashton intervened spectacularly in the closing moments. First he scored an own goal to give the visitors a consolation goal before going up the other end to score a penalty a minute later to make the final score 6-1.
Those are the only clashes between the sides in the modern era: indeed, one might argue that they are the only times we’ve met Nuneaton. However, our visitors have endured a tangled history, and we did face a direct predecessor of the current side in the two seasons before we entered the Football League, when both sides were members of the Birmingham and District League.
We beat them 4-0 at The Racecourse in the first season played after the First World War, and the following campaign we beat them in North Wales again, edging a 2-1 win.
Nuneaton won’t just be coming up against their old manager, of course. We also boast Louis Moult and Wes York, who last week became the first player to score two on his debut for Wrexham since Gareth Taylor on the opening day of the 2009-10 season.