PREVIEW: Wrexham AFC v Gateshead FC

It’s a big day for Gary Mills tomorrow as he faces his old side.
Mills spent two seasons at Gateshead, taking charge of 103 games, and he had a variable record in this fixture.
Two seasons ago his encounters with Wrexham turned out to be a wash out. When we met at the Gateshead International Stadium in September 2013 the visitors took a decisive grip of the game in the second half. Brett Ormerod opened the scoring ten minutes after the break, Steve Tomassen got the first goal of his senior career to make it 2-0, and Andy Bishop started a prolific run against The Heed to round off a 3-0 win.
The return match in November was a classic. Mills’ possession-based game was well embedded by then and they monopolised the ball, but it was Bishop that opened the scoring. However, an error by Joslain Mayebi let them back in the lead and they were 2-1 ahead at the break.
However, a late Bishop penalty pulled us level and he rounded off his hat trick – the last one by a Wrexham player – to clinch a magnificent 3-2 win.
We had four clashes with Gateshead last season, and although we failed to register a win we still managed to have the last laugh in the FA Trophy.
The Heed had the upper hand in the league as Mills enjoyed a double over his future employers. The sides clashes at The Racecourse for our first home match of the season and the visitors registered an emphatic 3-0 win. The return fixture, three days after the long trek down to Torquay and the excitement of clinching a place at Wembley, was always bound to be taxing, especially when Kevin Wilkin failed to rotate his squad despite the hours they’d spent on the road. The outcome was a 3-1 defeat.
In the FA Trophy it was a different matter though. Andy Bishop’s goal earned a 1-1 draw and the replay would be a dramatic affair. Despite going behind to a spectacular third minute strike we equalised early in the second half through a superb Connor Jennings volley.
When Wes York scored with a rare header in the last ten minutes it looked like we’d earned a deserved victory, but three minutes from the end Gateshead too the game into extra time.
Although we enjoyed the better of things, a penalty shoot-out was required, in which Dan Bachmann excelled, allowing Louis Moult to score the winner.
Two previous occupants of Mills’ job celebrate anniversaries on Sunday.
57 years ago Arfon Griffiths made his debut for the club: by the time he’d retired he’d hold the club’s appearances record and be the manager who’d taken us to our highest ever league position.
The second manager had a less auspicious career in North Wales. Eight years ago Brian Little was appointed manager of Wrexham, but his career was the opposite of Griffiths’. He’d depart in less than a year, having taken us out of the Football League. Indeed, only two managers have had a shorter reign at The Racecourse.

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