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.
If the history of a fixture has any influence on how a game will go then watch out for Dean Keates making a dramatic return tomorrow as the headlines after a Wrexham versus Woking match tend to centre around him.
Firstly, he’s the rather unexpected name at the top of the list of Wrexham scorers in this fixture, although that’s partly down to the failure of our strikers to make hay against The Cards as only he has scored more than one against them.
It doesn’t end there though as he also reached a particularly notable landmark at Woking last season when he made his six hundred and fiftieth career appearance.
However, his memories of clashes with Woking aren’t all positive. The season before he limped off injured after sixty five minutes of a depressing 2-0 defeat in a moment which seemed to sum up the malaise which had gripped the side as they stumbled towards the play-offs.
The side had lost momentum following the FA Trophy victory over Grimsby and looked to be running on empty. Famously, Keates had been pushing his body beyond its limits in an attempt to help us to promotion and it gave out in that match. He would miss the remaining four league games of the campaign although typically he’d drag himself back onto the pitch for the play-offs.
Woking have given us problems when we’ve travelled south to face them, but we’ve enjoyed better fortunes when they’ve come to The Racecourse.
Last season Woking arrived in October and put up a good fight. Keates gave us the lead in the first half but we were unable to finish them off and had to wait until the last minute for Joe Clarke to get a second and finally establish some breathing space.
Two seasons ago we faced Woking on the first day of the campaign, and we got off to a winning start with a 3-1 win. Rob Ogleby and Keates both hit the net before the break, and although Woking fought back and scored at the start of the second half, any hopes of pulling off a surprise were halted when Mark Creighton launched himself at a corner to score with a brawny header.
Previously The Cards had been to The Racecourse just once, in December 2008. Marc Williams gave us the lead with a header from a Wes Baynes corner, but with quarter of an hour left Woking equalised to emerge with a point.
Our record at Woking is not so good though, as we haven’t won at Kingfield in three attempts. We lost rather lamely there last season, Johnny Hunt’s goal and a string of fine saves by Andy Coughlin failing to prevent a 2-1 loss.
It’s been a significant week for Neil Ashton. Having made his three hundred and fiftieth career league appearance against Macclesfield on Monday, he makes his one hundred and fiftieth Wrexham appearance tomorrow.
Also, Louis Moult will make the hundredth league appearance of his career tomorrow.