PREVIEW: AFC Telford United v Wrexham FC

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.

joe_clarke_jay_harris_Telford

It seems strange to face Telford on the last day of the season as they are our most festive foes. Every league game we’ve ever played against them has been on either Boxing Day or New Year’s Day!

Admittedly, there’s good reason for that as despite the fact that this doesn’t quite feel like a derby, they’ve been our nearest neighbours in each of the previous two Conference campaigns we’ve been in the same division as them.

danny_wright_3

The last time we went to the New Buck’s Head one of our players managed a feat which will surely come up as a pub quiz question one day: which Wrexham player scored the first goal anywhere in the world in 2013? The answer is Danny Wright and the circumstances around his becoming statistically the most deadly striker on the planet are peculiar.

The game took place on New Year’s Day, of course, and most of the rest of Europe was on their winter break. There were no earlier kick-offs anywhere else in the world and our game started at noon, before any other professional match in the UK, so there was a window of opportunity for a scorer in the first half to achieve that unusual milestone.

Wright obliged, of course, running down the left channel in the twenty fourth minute and opening the scoring with a shot from a tight angle which lacked venom but was fortunately met with the first goalkeeping error of the year as the ball rolled gently inside the near post!

adrian_cieslewicz

Telford made us work for the result though, and it wasn’t until five minutes before the end of the game that Adrian Cieslewicz wrapped up a 2-0 win with the only headed goal of the twenty one he managed in his Wrexham career.

Our only other trip to Telford came the season before and it ended with exactly the same outcome. Joe Clarke scored an early goal to settle our nerves but once more Telford were stubborn opposition, roared on by an impressive crowd of 4,591.

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Jake Speight would play the decisive role in the second half though, putting in a typically feisty display and hardly endearing himself to the home fans with his tackling but then seeming to feed off their ire. His strike halfway through the second period secured the points.

Not only do we have a perfect record at Telford, but we also have good recent form on the last day of the season. We’ve lost just one of our last nine final matches, winning six, and there were extenuating circumstances surrounding that lone defeat as well.

It came two years ago at Mansfield as Andy Morrell selected a second string side, with Glen Little making his only start of the season and Mark Creighton thrown on for the first time since his injury seven months earlier. Taking all that into consideration, losing 1-0 to a disputed penalty against a side which won the title as a result was no mean feat!

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