Wrexham FC v Welling United Preview

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.

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Our record against Welling is rather limited. The only previous time The Wings have visited The Racecourse was the first day of last season, and they gave us a good run for our money in their first match at Conference Premier level.

Joe Clarke opened the scoring in the seventeenth minute with a terrific strike from the edge of the area, but we were unable to get a proper grip on the game and conceded an equaliser two minutes before the break.

The second half looked like it was going to peter out into a disappointed draw but a late substitute would have a dramatic impact on the match. Rob Ogleby was thrown on with eight minutes left and within sixty seconds he’d struck the winning goal, latching onto a ball in the right channel and lashing it home.

Our only other game against them was at Park View Road just before Christmas last year. On a sopping pitch which the groundstaff had worked tirelessly on to make playable, we fell behind only to grab a point through quite a rarity: a right-footed Johnny Hunt strike from outside the box!

Tomorrow’s match occurs on the anniversary of a day of great pride for Wrexham FC. Exactly forty two years ago yesterday we took a step into the unknown and played our first ever game in Europe. Having qualified the previous year as winners of the Welsh Cup, beating Cardiff in a two-legged final thanks to a goal by Albert Kinsey at Ninian Park, our reward was a trip to Switzerland to take on FC Zurich.

In front of a crowd of six and a half thousand we held out until just after the break, when the home side took the lead. However, within a minute we were level as Kinsey snatched another valuable away goal. The second leg, a fortnight later, saw us come back to win 2-1 with Mel Sutton scoring the winner.

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We played another European game on the same date in 1978, but it had a rather different outcome. Fresh from the greatest season in our history, we were confident of adding to our illustrious record in continental competition when we drew Yugoslavian cup winners Rijeka.

However, the trip east was a tricky affair as journeys behind the iron curtain tended to be! We caved in just before the break, conceding twice, and it seemed the tie was over when a second half goal left us trailing 3-0. An heroic fightback fell just short despite goals from Dixie McNeil and Les Cartwright.

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The milestones have been coming thick and fast this week. Blaine Hudson makes his seventy fifth career appearance against his old club Welling, for whom he played thirty eight times last season while on loan from Cambridge. Meanwhile Wes York makes the hundredth league appearance of his career tomorrow, having made his hundredth appearance in all competitions on Tuesday.

Also, Mark Carrington made his fiftieth Wrexham appearance at Bristol Rovers, although his red card meant he marked in a rather inauspicious manner.

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