PREVIEW: Southport 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.

If it’s January, it must be Southport. With a startling lack of originality, the fixture list churns out festive clashes between Wrexham and Southport with monotonous regularity. Indeed, nine out of the last eleven matches between the sides have been in either December or January!

We travelled to Haig Avenue on the second of January last season, and suffered an unnecessary defeat. In a dramatic encounter we took an early lead through Wes York and looked in control until The Sandgrounders suddenly clicked, scoring either side of the break.

However, the introduction of Dom Vose and James Grey after 70 minutes proved to be an inspiration as within a minute the former had whipped in a corner which the latter bundled home. Our other substitute, Kayden Jackson, then appeared to have won a late penalty but the referee waved play on and moments later pointed to the spot at the other end after a poor challenge from Jamal Fyfield. The spot kick was converted to clinch a 3-2 home win.

That result ended a superb run of results for Wrexham at Southport. We hadn’t lost there for fifty years, our previous defeat being a 1-0 reverse in 1966. Our subsequent eight match unbeaten run at Haig Avenue saw us rack up six wins, including our biggest victory there.

That came in November 2012, despite being behind at the break. Andy Morrell’s side stormed back in the second period though. Jay Harris equalised and Southport collapsed in the final twelve minutes after an own goal put us ahead. Rob Ogleby made it three, and Chris Westwood wrapped up a 4-1 win with a rare goal.

The sides have regularly played back-to-back fixtures over the Christmas period since the days when they were both in the Third Division North, often on consecutive days, and history tells us we shouldn’t assume that we’re favourites at Haig Avenue just because we won on Boxing Day. For proof of how a double header can swing dramatically, look back to 1927. On Boxing Day Wrexham lost 4-1 at Southport, but the very next day they got their revenge, winning 3-1 at The Racecourse.

If he has recovered from the injury he picked up at Sutton, Mark Carrington will make his 125th Wrexham league appearance tomorrow.

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