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.
We reacquaint ourselves with Torquay United tomorrow hoping to pick off where we left off as we’re currently enjoying our longest unbeaten run against The Gulls.
They haven’t beaten us in four games, going back to April 2006, although we can hardly claim that we’ve enjoyed a great deal of recent success on our trips to Torquay.
Our last win at Plainmoor, and also the best result we’ve enjoyed there, came back in December 2006, and it was a day which seemed bound to end in success when something remarkable happened: Neil Salathiel scored!
A powerful full back, Salathiel wasn’t renowned for his ability to hit the net; indeed, he scored just 3 in 302 appearances for Wrexham,but he opened the scoring in this match and that effort was added to by Jim Steel and an own goal as we ran out 3-1 winners.
That game brought to an end a rather odd sequence of generosity by The Gulls as that was the third game in a row that they had put the ball into their own net for us!
Our worst loss on the English Riviera was a particularly memorable beating. We travelled south for the opening game of the 1987-8 season full of that typical optimism which a new season brings, nt least because Dixie McNeil had completely overhauled his squad with an eye on mounting a challenge for promotion to the Third Division.
Four players made their debuts that afternoon, Kevin Russell, Joe Hinnigan, Geoff Hunter and Mike Carter, and when the latter opened the scoring it looked like hopes of a new start for a club which had suffered years of decline might be justified. It didn’t take long for that particular bubble to burst though; we were behind by half time and 6-1 down with just under twenty minutes left! Thankfully The Gulls eased off at that point and it remained the rather embarrassing final score.
Our last two games at Torquay ended in 1-1- draws and in both cases our goals were scored by on-loan strikers. In December 2006 on a particularly grim Tuesday evening, Sunderland’s Kevin Smith hit the net against a side which was on its way to finishing at the bottom of the Football League, while our only game there in the Conference, in January 2009, saw Ryan Flynn earn a point. Hopefully Dan Holman or Johnny Hunt will be able to emulate them!
This fixture doesn’t have much history as we first met in 1964, so our most prolific players against The Gulls are fairly recent. Three players are top of the list of scorers against United: Barry Horne, Jim Steel and Albert Kinsey have three each, followed by Jon Walters, Jonathan Cross, Andy Edwards, Andy Morrell and Arfon Griffiths with two apiece.
This match takes place on an interesting recent anniversary as exactly six years ago Dean Saunders made his much heralded debut as Wrexham manager. The game ended in a dramatic 3-2 win away to Forest Green, with Marc Williams scoring two and Jefferson Louis snatching late equaliser. A similar performance would do nicely tomorrow!