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.
It’s time to regain the upper hand in the cross-border derby as Chester have had the better of things lately.
We’ve won just once in the last five clashes with our greatest rivals, drawing three and losing one. Moreover, it’s two hundred and five minutes since we hit the net in the derby, our last scorer being Michael Proctor!
He hit the net to secure a 2-0 away win in March 2008 after Paul Hall had opened the scoring, and although we’ve not had the better of things overall, we can still look at our record at The Deva with pride. We’ve only lost once there, winning four and drawing two.
Memorable wins at The Deva include Karl Connolly’s memorable duo in the FA Cup in December 1997 and a victory on the way to lifting the LDV Vans Trophy at the Millennium Stadium as Juan Ugarte got the winner in November 2004. We were also victorious in August 2006 when we won 2-1 through a Neil Roberts penalty and a lob by Mark Jones.
Our only loss in Chester came in April 2006 in controversial circumstances. After a scoreless first half a highly contentious penalty award against Danny Williams allowed Ben Davies to give the home team the lead, and although Lee McEvilly equalised Derek Asamoah hit the winner with a quarter of an hour left.
Our biggest victory in Chester came in a Welsh Cup tie in January1949 when we won 6-0. Billy Tunnicliffe scored twice with Eddie Beynon, Dennis Grainger, Jack Boothway and Norman Sharp getting the others.
Overall we’re twelve wins ahead of the Cestrians. We’ve got sixty five wins to our credit, drawing thirty and losing fifty three.
Last season’s goalless draw at the Deva was as dull a match as we witnessed in a season to forget, and it bucked the trend in the cross-border derby.
Disregarding a 0-0 draw at The Racecourse in 2007 which was removed from the record books after Chester were expelled from the Conference for failing to fulfil their fixtures, it was only the second goalless match between the two great rivals since February 1962.
Games in Chester are particularly unlikely to be fruitless; the previous time both sides drew a blank across the border in a league game was back in December 1956.
In a statistical coincidence, Blaine Hudson makes his seventy fifth career league appearance on Monday, while Connor Jennings plays in his seventy fifth career game.
Neil Ashton made his two hundredth Wrexham appearance on Tuesday at Barnet, and it’s an indication of the lack of continuity the club has enjoyed in recent years that he’s the first player to achieve that landmark since Andy Morrell three seasons ago. The only other two players to have represented Wrexham since we dropped out of the Football League who have also reached that landmark is Shaun Pejic.
If he returns to the team on Monday Johnny Hunt will make his hundred and twenty fifth career appearance.