Today’s huge match will revolve around so many duels: Bonne against Wrexham’s stubborn defence; Tollitt trying to get behind Ling and pull Ekpiteta out of the middle; Wright trying to force McAnuff into deeper areas than he wants to be. However, perhaps the key clash will be between two players signed on loan by Sam Ricketts; one whose form makes him barely recognisable to Wrexham fans, the other a man who, if he does his job well, could be playing against us next season.
When Brad Walker arrived at The Racecourse in September, Jordan Maguire-Drew was still a key part of Ricketts’ plans. The winger started in 7 of Walker’s first 11 games, but by that time the decline was setting in, the return was deteriorating and the problems created by his isolation, both on the pitch and in terms of his distance from home, were becoming insurmountable.
In all, Maguire-drew appeared in ten games after Walker’s arrival, and couldn’t manage a goal or an assist in any of them. His 7 starts before Walker came to The Racecourse yielded 3 goals and 1 assist.
Obviously, I’m not going to claim that somehow Walker’s arrival caused Maguire-Drew’s decline. But undoubtedly Walker had a front row seat for the winger’s deterioration, and will probably not recognize the forlorn figure that quit Wrexham before Christmas when he locks horns with the rejuvenated JMD today.
Indeed, he won’t see a winger. Maguire-Drew is now threatening from more central areas, and he’s doing so very effectively. The goals have started to flow again, and he’s starting to look like the player he was at the start of the season.
Bryan Hughes’ 4-2-3-1 has meant a subtle change in Walker’s role, as he’s no longer as wedded to the defensive midfield role as he used to be. However, he might find that today he has to revert to previous instructions in order to ensure Maguire-Drew isn’t able to join the front two and cause problems in the Wrexham area.
Walker also has to watch for his late arrival into the box, after the forwards have pulled the centre-backs out of shape. That’s how he scored in midweek, and even if Kieran Kennedy continues at right back, with his natural tendency to cover the central defenders, a well-timed late run into the box will need special attention.
Maguire-Drew has been operating with great effect in Walker’s domain. If Walker can give us the first of ten leaving gifts today, he’ll help our title cause immensely.