PREVIEW: Torquay United v Wrexham AFC

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)

It’s time to head back down to Devon again tomorrow, and hopefully this time the weather will mean it’s not a long, fruitless journey!

Of course we won there the last time we visited Plainmoor, clinching a place in the FA Trophy final in the process, and recording our biggest ever win there in the process. That was an isolated success at Torquay though, as our last victory there came in 1985, and we’ve been there eight times in the league since, picking up three points from a possible twenty four.

Still, our back-to-back wins in the FA Trophy semi-final, plus the 3-1 win we enjoyed at The Racecourse in August, mean that we go into tomorrow’s game looking to run up four consecutive wins against The Gulls for the first time. The only other time we’ve beaten then three times in a row was in 1986.

Wrexham won their first two games at Torquay, but The Gulls won their first two games at The Racecourse! Since then away victories have been rather thin on the ground for both sides. Tomorrow is the thirty third clash between the two sides, and the away team has been triumphant just ten times.

We’re the third top scorers in the division, so clearly things are going well up front, but despite keeping a clean sheet in three of our last five league matches, we still need to address issues at the other end. Only Dover have conceded more goals than us in the top half of the table, and they’ve played two more games.

Macclesfield’s first goal last Saturday set the alarm bells ringing because, rather alarmingly, the last seven times Wrexham have conceded a goal in the first half they’ve also conceded in the second.

Gary Mills spoke after the Macclesfield defeat of his confidence at half time that his side would come back strongly after the break. This hope had sound foundations in fact, as we have certainly discovered the knack of piling it on in the second half of matches lately. In fact, nine of the last ten goals Wrexham have scored were after the break, Connor Jennings’ strike against Macclesfield being the first goal we’d managed in the first half since he struck in the final minute of the opening period against Barrow on Hallowe’en.

However, the statistics at the other end of the pitch suggested that our prolific second half form wasn’t just a case of us dominating more as games wore on. Five of the last seven goals we have conceded were in the last 20 minutes of matches, so perhaps the conclusion to draw from all these statistics is that Wrexham games tend to really open up in the second half.

Danny Whitaker’s 71st minute strike nearly maintained a bizarre streak in Wrexham games as before the match the last two goals we’d conceded had come in the 74th minute.

Mark Carrington will play the two hundredth league match of his career tomorrow.

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