PREVIEW Tranmere Rovers 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)

The stakes are high at Prenton Park tomorrow, but at least we go into the match knowing that our last trip to Tranmere saw us equal our best away victory over them.

Goals from Wes York, Dom Vose, Sean Newton and Manny Smith earned a 4-2 win in the FA Trophy in December, matching the result we achieved in October 1956, when David Jones struck two with Ron Hewitt and John Anderson scoring the others.

We have the advantage in the fixture, with fifty two wins against forty three losses and twenty eight draws. A remarkably high percentage of the drawn games, eleven to be precise, ended goalless.

Our worst result at Prenton Park was a 6-0 loss in September 1964 which came in the midst of a horrible run of away results against Rovers. Between 1959 and 1967 we lost six games in a row there, with a 6-3 and a 4-1 accompanying that 6-0! We also lost 5-1 at home during that period, but more of that in a moment.

Tommy Bamford has been our most effective scorer in a fixture which goes all the way back to 1897, when we won 3-1 at Prenton Park in the Combination League. Bamford managed seven goals, two ahead of Keith Webber and Jim Steel. Tranmere were so impressed by Steel’s efforts that they bought him from us!

Keith Webber

Spare a thought for Webber as his goals didn’t bring much reward because his spell at The Racecourse coincided with that dreadful run of results in the 1960s. He kicked off with two goals in a 3-2 home win in February 1965, but then ended up scoring in vain on two occasions the following season: he hit the consolation goal in the 5-1 loss at The Racecourse, and then was amongst the scorers in a 6-3 away defeat which remains the highest aggregate of goals scored between the two sides in a match.

Tomorrow’s match takes place on a date when plenty of big matches have taken place in Wrexham’s history. In 1921 we faced Pontypridd in the Welsh Cup final in Cardiff and drew 1-1, and would go on to win the replay 3-1 in Shrewsbury.

Thirteen years later we travelled to Darlington in the semi-final of the Northern Section Cup, which was essentially a pre-war version of the northern half of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and lost 3-1. This was the first year that the short-lived competition was played, and we never got so far again in the subsequent five years it ran.

In 1962 we faced Bangor City in the first leg of the Welsh Cup and took what would these days be seen as a decisive 3-0 lead. However, aggregate scores weren’t taken into consideration at that time, and a 2-0 loss at Farrar Road meant the tie was level at one win each and had to go to a replay in Rhyl. Player-manager Ken Barnes scored from the spot but we lost 3-1.

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