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.
Gary Mills’ men head east in search of history tomorrow.
If they can keep another clean sheet, their seventh in a row, they would equal the club record for the most consecutive shut-outs. Going all the way back to our first competitive matches 129 years ago, we’ve managed the feat only once in the past. We finished the 1999-2000 season in miserly form, shutting the opposition out for our last seven games.
Not all those matches were in the league though, as interspersed amongst them were a Welsh Premier Cup final against Barry Town and a 2-0 victory in the final against Cardiff City.
A clean sheet tomorrow would also equal the club record for most back to back clean sheets in the league. That mark was set between October and November 2011, as Andy Morrell’s side made a bid for the Conference title.
Even if we don’t set the clean sheet record, we could still establish a club record for the longest time we’ve gone without conceding a goal. If we get to the twentieth minute with our clean sheet intact we’ll have kept the opposition at bay for 639 minutes for the first time in our history. If Grimsby still haven’t scored by the 75th minute we’ll have set a club record in the league too.
If history counts for anything we’ve a chance of achieving these targets too, as matches with Grimsby tend to be low scoring affairs. In fact, we go into the match on the back of two consecutive clean sheets against The Mariners.
Indeed, in the last eight clashes between Wrexham and Grimsby more than one goal has only been scored by either side once, five games ago in March 2014 when Town won 3-1.
Last season we registered a fine 1-0 victory at Grimsby under caretaker manager Carl Darlington thanks to a seventeenth minute strike from Joe Clarke, but in general we find it difficult to come away from Blundell Park with a positive result. Our last eight trips there have ended in two victories and six defeats. Overall we’ve won eight times at Grimsby, losing eighteen and drawing seven.
Encouragingly, Gary Mills has an excellent record at Blundell Park, and an impressive head to head against Grimsby at any venue. He’s unbeaten in six matches on the east coast as during his time at Gateshead he went there four times, drawing on each occasion, and in his previous job he took York City to Grimsby twice and returned victorious both times.
In fact, he won his first five games against Grimsby as manager of Tamworth and then York, and in total his record against the Mariners stands as seven wins, five draws and two defeats. Admittedly, one of those defeats was a spectacular 6-1 home loss with Gateshead, but on the other hand he took The Heed to the play-off final in 2014 with a 4-2 aggregate win over Grimsby.
Sean Newton makes his 275th career appearance tomorrow, while Wes York will play his 75th game for Wrexham.