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.
We need three points tomorrow to keep the play-off spots in view, but we’ll have to claim a first win over our visitors to do so.
We’ve never played Bromley before this season, and our first clash with the side from Kent certainly didn’t go as planned. We travelled to Hayes Lane on the first day of the season full of hope, and the opening twenty minutes did nothing to diminish our optimism. We completely dominated the game, our passing game clicking immediately, and took the lead half way through the opening period when Wes York repeated his feat of last season by hitting the net on the opening day, neatly flicking home Dom Vose’s vicious near post cross.
From then onwards things went horribly wrong. Within two minutes of York’s goal The Ravens were level: Manny Smith conceded a free kick in midfield which led to a scramble in the area that centre back Sean Francis capitalised upon, lashing the ball past Cameron Belford and into the roof of the net.
We crumbled after that body blow, and five minutes later we were behind. Debutant Mason Watkins-Clark, on loan from Stoke, lost the ball carelessly on the half way line and when it was played into the box Alex Wall lunged in ahead of Blaine Hudson to poke it home. Watkins-Clark’s nightmare debut ended prematurely when he was withdrawn at the break and soon afterwards he was sent back to his parent club: at the moment that remains the sole senior appearance of his career.
Two minutes before the break our fate was essentially sealed. Adriano Moke embarked on a run to the edge of Bromley’s area but when he was disposed we left ourselves horribly exposed at the back and an incisive break ended with Moses Emmanuel drilling the ball home.
The second half offered plenty of possession but no relief. Joel Logan, another debutant loanee, went closest when he drew a sharp save from a powerful shot. But apart from that late effort we never really looked like hauling ourselves back into the game.
A look back at our seasons in the Conference suggests that this season hasn’t been a step forward from the last couple of years. After thirty one games we have forty five points, which is remarkably similar to where we were after thirty one games last season, when Kevin Wilkin’s side had forty three points. Likewise, the season before we had forty two at this stage under Andy Morrell.
The only time we’ve had a worse points total at this stage of the season since we joined the Conference was in our second season at this level, under Dean Saunders, when we had accumulated a mere forty one at this point of the campaign.
On an individual note, Blaine Hudson makes his one hundred and twenty fifth league appearance for Wrexham tomorrow, while Adriano Moke played in his one hundred and twenty fifth career league appearance game at Altrincham.