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.
As Wrexham look to return to winning ways in the league, at least they can hope to find solace in home advantage because neither side tends to travel well in this fixture.
We managed to win our first two games at Torquay, while The Gulls won their first two games at The Racecourse! Since then away victories have been rather thin on the ground since for both sides.
There have been just five away wins in thirty-two subsequent clashes, and to find the last instance of an away victory by either team you have to go back quite a long way. The fact that it was Andy Thackeray who scored the decisive goal in that match tells you all you need to know!
The sides have clashed fifteen times since the last away win by either of them, in April 1990 when Thackeray scored the only goal at Plainmoor, and you have to go back a further two years to find The Gulls’ last triumph in North Wales. We never really got over an awful start in that match, as after six minutes we found ourselves two goals down.
Dixie McNeil’s side tried to rally and Kevin Russell, enjoying a prolific season during his first spell at The Racecourse, pulled a goal back early in the second half. However, within three minutes United has restored their two goal advantage and although Joe Hinnigan got on the end of a set piece half way through the second period to set up a frantic finish, we couldn’t manage an equaliser.
Still, that scoreline was an improvement on our previous clash as on the opening day of that season we lost 6-1 at Plainmoor!
We’re unbeaten in nine at home to Torquay, winning six. Our last win over them came in April 2007 when an already relegated United were beaten by a late Neil Roberts goal which helped us to evade the drop to the Conference, for a season at least!
Our best result at home to Torquay is 4-2, which we’ve managed twice. In January 1993 Jonathan Cross scored two, Gary Bennett and Mike Lake getting the others during a promotion season under Brian Flynn, and we matched that scoreline in October 2005 as Jon Walters hit two with Simon Spender and Dean Bennett getting the others.
In seventeen home games we’ve failed to hit the net just once, when we went down to a 2-0 defeat in March 1966 which remains the only time The Gulls have won by more than a goal at The Racecourse.
Surprisingly, the biggest crowd this fixture has attracted was a huge 9,920 at The Racecourse in March 1966, despite the fact that it came near the end of a season when Wrexham finished bottom of the Fourth Division.
By way of contrast, the smallest crowd to watch Torquay at The Racecourse was a mere 1,034 who saw Paul Comstive and an own goal earn a 2-0 win in March 1985.