PREVIEW: Guiseley FC 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) www.leaderlive.co.uk.

With our defence hitting fine form, we could establish our longest run without conceding a goal in the Conference tomorrow.

If we get to the 49th minute without conceding we’ll have gone 459 minutes without conceding, the longest we’ve managed in the Conference since we dropped out of the Football League in 2008.

We’ve kept four clean sheets in a row for the sixth time in the Conference, another tomorrow will mean we’ll have kept five consecutive shut-outs for the first time since we ended the 1999-2000 season with a club record seven consecutive clean sheets and would equal our third best run of consecutive clean sheets.

There’s virtually no history between Wrexham and Guiseley, and yet Gary Mills’ men may well look at tomorrow as an opportunity to put things right after a poor performance in their previous clash.

The clash between the two sides at The Racecourse last October was the first time their paths had crossed, and it might be viewed as a low point of Wrexham’s season so far.

The game came at the conclusion of a six game run of matches without a win, and it got off to an awful start as Gavin Rothery waltzed far too easily through Wrexham’s static defence to open the scoring with Guiseley’s first attack in the third minute.

The Dragons responded sluggishly as the crowd expressed their concern, but things seemed to have turned round half way through the first half when Dom Vose scored a typical effort from the edge of the box.

The goal restored confidence in team and crowd alike and by the break it looked like the early scare had been survived as Wrexham held the lead thanks to a second strike from Vose.

However, the second half would see the visitors take control, attacking with more verve and defending comfortably when required. Substitute Liam Dickinson, who had rattled the bar from a free kick with his first touch of the ball, scored a deserved equaliser with twenty minutes left and nobody could have argued that The Lions weren’t worth of the three points when Adam Boyes lashed a superb strike past Cameron Belford with nine minutes left.

However, there would be a late twist in the tale. Rothery was shown a red card with two minutes left, shifting the momentum in Wrexham’s favour, and Kayden Jackson, introduced as an eighty fifth minute substitute for Blaine Hudson as Gary Mills sought to find a combination with a cutting edge, would prove to be the man capable of making the extra man count.

In the ninety second minute he set off on a thrilling burst into the visitors’ box which culminated in a drag back for Connor Jennings to lash home the equaliser.

Wrexham’s disappointing performance in that match was perhaps epitomised by Adam Smith. He was making just his second start of the season, and lasted a mere sixty six minutes as a peripheral figure on the wing before being withdrawn. At least that was a better stint than he managed in his previous start, when he didn’t re-emerge for the second half. That would prove to be his last appearance for Wrexham, and his next match would be three weeks later, playing for his new club Guiseley against Barrow!

It appeared that something had to give, and Mills’ side certainly responded to the disappointment of their performance. Four days later they managed an impressive win at Woking, keeping a first clean sheet in six games in the process as they ended that six match drought. That was to be the first in a run of four consecutive league wins as the season was revived once more. Let’s hope tomorrow’s game can serve as a similar catalyst!

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