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.
The trip to Boreham Wood is a journey into the unknown as we’ve never faced the Meadow Park side.
Let’s hope we do better than the last time we faced fresh opponents, back on the opening day of the season, when we faced Bromley at the Courage Stadium and crashed to a 3-1 defeat.
That loss wasn’t out of character as we’ve tended to struggle when facing new opponents. Last season we did manage to wallop Eastleigh 3-0 in our first meeting with the Hampshire side, but we lost our first ever match to Dover Athletic, going down 2-0, and faced a third new challenge against North Ferriby. I’d rather not talk about that though!
Cameron Belford makes his two hundredth career appearance tomorrow and he’ll be hoping that he and his defence will be able to discover the knack of keeping things tight at Meadow Park. Their record this season of two clean sheets in the first ten games is certainly something they’ll want to improve upon as a record of a shut-out every five games is below our recent standards.
To put it into perspective, the last time clean sheets were so hard to come by for Wrexham was eleven seasons ago. In the 2004-5 season, which ended in relegation to League Two, we kept a clean sheet every 5.45 matches.
Surprisingly, even during the miserable 2007-8 season which saw us crash out of the Football League saw us keep clean sheets on a more regular basis than we have done this season, as we kept twelve shut-outs in 51 games.
It’s nine games since we kept a clean sheet on the road, at Grimsby in April.
On the subject of personal milestones, Wes York made his 50th league appearance for Wrexham at Gateshead on Tuesday.
Tomorrow’s match falls on the anniversary of perhaps the greatest victory in Wrexham’s long history. Exactly 31 years earlier we took on the might of FC Porto at The Racecourse and came away with the most unlikely of victories.
We were a struggling Fourth Division side at the time, hardly a challenge likely to concern such a continental superpower, and accordingly expectation in North Wales was low. Indeed, less than five thousand fans bothered to come out and see how we would fare against the Portuguese giants.
They missed out on a treat as Jim Steel rose to head home a John Muldoon cross and earn a remarkable 1-0 win. Even more incredibly, a fortnight later we’d complete the job and eliminate Porto from the competition in the most sunning of circumstances.
Trailing 3-0 just before the break, skipper Jake King stepped up to the plate to score twice from set pieces to give us the lead on away goals at half time.
The second half saw Porto put us under intense pressure and eventually go 4-2 up, but Barry Horne’s spectacular volley in the closing moments of the match meant we went through to a plum second round tie against AS Roma.