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.
Tomorrow will be the fourth time we’ve faced Dover Athletic, and we’re still looking for our first victory over them.
Our first game against them, at the Crabble Athletic Ground, was in January 2015 and set the tone for unhappy trips to the south coast. We visited them on a bleak, wet Tuesday night and had to make the long trip home empty-handed. Having gone two goals down in the first thirty five minutes, through goals from Tom Murphy and Sean Raggett, there was little hope of a come-back and although we missed a couple of decent chances, a final score of 2-0 felt like a fair reflection of play. At least we avoided Athletic doing the double over us that season.
When the sides clashed at The Racecourse in March, Jay Harris gave us the lead with a well struck shot in the first half. However, Dover rallied after the break and Ricky Modeste struck on the hour to earn his side a point and give the twenty one travelling fans something to make the long trek worthwhile!
When we played at Dover earlier this season, we got the familiar feeling of a wasted journey that we had the previous time we went there. Gary Mills tried out a three man defence for the first time this season, and also gave Lee Fowler his first start of the campaign, but neither move bore fruit.
Again we conceded first when Rick Miller beat Cameron Belford, but we managed an equaliser when Connor Jennings scored from the penalty spot. However, it was clear that the new set-up wasn’t working out and when Toby Ajala gave Dover the lead again six minutes into the second half, Gary Mills acted swiftly to revert to a more familiar style of play. Fowler was withdrawn ten minutes into the second period, and Ross White was withdrawn ten minutes later as we returned to four at the back, but neither change was able to influence the result and we went down to a 2-1 defeat.
I’m not one for giving out gambling tips, but do you fancy a long shot? If we keep a clean sheet in every game for the rest of the season, we’ll set the club record for most league shut-outs in a campaign!
Some bets are not worth taking though. I’ve already mentioned Connor Jennings’ first successful penalty of the season, in Dover last October, and when he hit four successful spot kicks in six matches recently, taking his total for the season to five, it looked like he might be in line to challenge the club record.
That prospect is now a long way off, as Gary Bennett, who loved winning penalties and then putting them away, scored ten in two consecutive seasons in the early 1990s. However, Jennings is still in line for a recent record, as two more penalties will match the most a Wrexham player has hit in one Conference season when Jake Speight got seven in 2011-12.