My Dad reckons that whenever Wrexham get a decent crowd in, we always underperform. This has an unfortunate knock-on effect as floating voters see us lose and decide they’re not going to come back any time soon.
Last Saturday followed his predicted pattern, as we attracted our biggest home crowd of the season, but lost our top of the table match with Leyton Orient. However, they say that if you fall off a horse the best thing to do is climb straight back on, and today we’ll get a chance to do just that.
Surely the FA Cup tie with Newport County will attract an ever bigger attendance, and the players will get an opportunity to show what they can do once more.
I don’t mean to sound negative, but I wasn’t totally surprised by what happened against Orient. For me it was a sixth performance in a row which was uneven. It featured many of the elements required of a promotion side, but they were not sustained for the full ninety minutes, or across all parts of the team.
We’re in a great position in the league, but we’ve not found the rhythm of a promotion-winning team yet. We shouldn’t be worried by that, though, because our history suggests that it’s too early in the season for that form to be established.
When we were promoted in 1970 we certainly weren’t firing on all cylinders by the middle of the season. Between November and February we went on a run of two wins, one draw and five defeats.
Similarly, when we went up in 1993, we didn’t really hit our stride until Mike Lake arrived on loan from Sheffield United. Before then we’d been very erratic, a 6-1 FA Cup pounding at the hands of Crewe coming as a disappointment but not a massive surprise.
When Denis Smith’s side went up in 2003, Scott Green made a similar impact in midfield to Lake. Promotion was achieved on the back of a superb end of season run. Before Christmas we’d been unreliable, and suffered a 5-2 defeat at the hands of a rather average Rochdale side.
So, don’t think that failing to fully convince in November is a cause for pessimism. Instead, look at today’s cup tie as a chance to energise our campaign. Often a promotion push is sparked by one significant match. In 1993 it was a 3-0 thumping of promotion rivals York City on a filthy January night at The Racecourse. In 2003 we famously suffered a 1-0 defeat at Exeter which drove Smith into a fury. Not wanting to go through that ordeal again, the side didn’t lose again in the sixteen remaining games of the season!
A big performance against Newport could give us the cohesion and confidence needed to step up a level, and put in more consistent performances. It is also an immediate opportunity to show those fans who have been burned before, and aren’t fully invested in the cause, that this is a season worth committing to. This could be a big day in our season, and as the need to get out of the National League becomes greater, a big day in our history.
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.