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.
Tomorrow’s match isn’t just a test against the league leaders: it’s a significant milestone for our manager.
The game will be Kevin Wilkin’s fiftieth as manager of Wrexham, and perhaps his most impressive result so far was the 1-0 win at Barnet which we enjoyed in September thanks to Robbie Evans’ strike from outside the box and a first clean sheet in ten games in this fixture.
If Wilkin is to celebrate his fiftieth match by bringing up our second league double over The Bees, equalling the number of times they’ve done the double over us, he’ll have to buck the trend though, as in general Barnet tend to enjoy trips to The Racecourse.
It’s ironic they should be Wilkin’s fiftieth opponents, as their victory at The Racecourse almost exactly a year ago was what essentially opened up the vacancy which Wilkin eventually filled.
Barnet won a grim match 1-0 thanks to a Jake Hyde goal in the 79th minute, and Andy Morrell cut a frustrated figure in the post-match press conference. His low mood persisted and two days later his reign was over as Wrexham manager.
That win stretched their unbeaten run at The Racecourse to four matches, and we haven’t kept a home clean sheet against them in five games. In seven matches here they’ve won three and lost three.
The previous time we welcomed The Bees to North Wales was equally depressing as we went down to a drab 2-0 defeat in October 2007, a seventh defeat in eight home games which came in the middle of a disastrous run of eleven losses in thirteen games. Inevitably, we were relegated to the Conference at the end of the season!
Our best home result against Barnet was a 4-0 triumph in September 1993. Gary Bennett scored two with Jonathan Cross and Barry Jones also hitting the net. Bennett would continue to terrorise The Bees, scoring an injury time winner in the return fixture. He got four goals against them in total, the most any Wrexham player has managed, one ahead of Mark Jones and two in front of Lee McEvilly.
McEvilly’s brace, of course, was accompanied by his famous stomach-rubbing celebration during a 2-1 win at Underhill in March 2007, as he responded to criticism from the terraces of his waistline!
The last time we beat Barnet at home was in August 2005. Mark Jones opened the scoring with a typically clean strike in the first minute, and Paul Warhurst added a second before the break. A minute before the hour on-loan Liverpool striker Robbie Foy added to our lead and we ended up comfortable 3-1 winners.
Barnet’s best win at The Racecourse came in September 1992. Bennet and Mickey Thomas both scored for us, but Gary Bull scored a hat trick – the only one managed by either side in this fixture – to clinch a 3-2 away win. There’d be a happy ending for both sides as both Wrexham and Barnet were promoted at the end of the season.