5 Questions Before AFC Fylde v Wrexham AFC

What happens if we lose?

It’s the fundamental question of the night. Defeat would surely mean an horrendous atmosphere next Saturday would be inevitable if the status quo remained. The club wanted to do the right thing by backing Hughes last week, but circumstances are in danger of spiralling out of control.

Will Lawlor return?

With the side leaking goals, and Jake Lawlor finally available after suspension, does he return to partner Shaun Pearson tomorrow? We certainly haven’t been defending convincingly lately, but the stats suggest he may have to wait for his chance.

Goals conceded per minute by Wrexham when players are playing in defence.

The figures are skewed by our Scottish Challenge Cup match, but even so, we’re conceding more goals per minute this season when Lawlor is on the pitch, whereas the direct alternate, Michael Chambers, is on a par with Shaun Pearson in this respect. That match against Ayr actually improved Lawlor’s figures too.

The figures for defensive partnerships tell the same story. We concede a goal every 67.5 minutes when Pearson and Chambers are paired, and 15 minutes more frequently when Lawlor partners the skipper.

Of course, statistics only tell part of the story. Lawlor hasn’t quite looked himself this season, but he was excellent in the last campaign and was solid against Ayr. Conceding every 67 minutes is no basis for mounting a promotion challenge anyway: bringing Lawlor back will improve our chances of stability.

Is it time for a front two?

Picture courtesy of Alun Roberts – all inquiries to @aluninhope on Twitter.

For the last 13 minutes of the Aldershot game, we played with a front two, as Bobby Grant was pushed narrow to partner Jason Oswell. The tactical change wasn’t a roaring success: we lost control of the middle of the pitch and were punished for it. However, Oswell and Grant did link well, begging the question of whether their partnership might be something worth exploring.

Oswell won a lot of the ball, and held it up well, throughout the game, but the wide strikers, despite constantly coming narrow, didn’t latch onto much. That changed when Grant joined him up front. The problem is, we looked poor when we made the switch to 4-4-2 which accommodated their pairing. Is it time to get the midfield diamond out of the mothballs?

Who is our best midfield anchor?

We played a holding midfielder for the first time this season at Aldershot, with mixed results. We had more of the ball than we’ve enjoyed in any other away game this season, but Adam Barton sometimes didn’t move the ball quickly enough and allowed players goalside too often, conceding a couple of free kicks on the edge of the box and earning a booking as a result.

Will Wrexham retain a holding midfielder, and if so has Barton earned another chance? Remember, Akil Wright won the first National League player of the month award of last season in that position, while Luke Summerfield has performed in that role and Mark Carrington also has the required atributes.

Does Mark Harris need a rest?

Mark Harris is clearly a fine player, but he has been less influential in recent games. Part of this is due to the loss of JJ Hooper’s movement, but it was always possible that a young loanee could be worn down by the grind of a National League season. His busy recent schedule, with two Wales Under-21 games crammed into his schedule, won’t have helped. With Ben Tollitt available, it might be an opportune time to give Harris a game on the bench to ensure he’s fresh for Saturday.

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