5 Questions Before Wrexham AFC v Chesterfield (again)

Will Keates start with Saturday’s subs?

Dean Keates’ bold triple substitution certainly made a difference on Saturday, injecting threat and directness into our play. But how many of the trio have earned a start for the replay?

Akil Wright and Devonte Redmond certainly made a difference in the middle of the pitch, but will Keates be willing to drop Luke Young and Luke Summerfield, both of whom have put in some good performances this season?

Does Hooper have 90 minutes in him?

As for the third substitute, there’s no doubt JJ Hooper will start if he has 90 minutes in him. His movement up front caused problems against a Chesterfield central defensive partnership which has played well against us, but would rather use their strength and size to compete with strikers. Mark Harris got in behind them three times – one of which was the subject of a very dubious offside decision – so Hooper might expect to cause them real problems.

But has he got 90 minutes in him?

Is Fondop targeting Lainton?

Mike Fondop goes in late on Rob Lainton.

Last Tuesday’s coming together of Mike Fondop and Rob Lainton after Michael Chambers’ own goal passed without much comment at the time. However, Saturday’s events lent a more sinister context to the incident.

His late challenge in the 14th minute on the goalkeeper, making contact with his leg a long time after the ball had gone and opening up his knee, was a shocker. Remarkably the referee opted not to punish him further than awarding a free kick: the notion that officials shouldn’t show cards in the first half hour continues to baffle and anger me.

The way he slammed Lainton into the net moments before he was withdrawn simply added to the sense that he was targeting the keeper. Obviously, he’s aware that Lainton is coming back from injury: after all, he spent the start of the season with us. Was he trying to exploit that with his series of reckless challenges on the keeper? Shame on him if he was: he eagerly thanks God in his interviews, but I’m sure nobble thy neighbour isn’t in the bible.

Is our back four starting to settle?

Dean Keates congratulates James Horsfield on an excellent debut.

James Horsfield was outstanding on his debut, and it felt like we might have been starting to turn a corner. He was good going forward, but more importantly was a very solid presence defensively.

Was it a coincidence that Jake Lawlor, our right-sided centre back, had probably his best game of the season with Horsfield outside him?

Was if a coincidence that Chesterfield’s Gevaro Nepomuceno, lining up on the left of their midfield, was their best player on Tuesday but fairly anonymous when pitted against Horsfield?

I think not: with Mark Carrington returning to fitness, suddenly there’s some depth to our back four.

Is Redmond a central midfielder?

He was only on for half an hour, but Devonte Redmond put in his best performance for Wrexham on Saturday. However, what made him effective was also what might put Keates off using him from the start.

Redmond was a real threat when we had the ball, drifting around and finding space, popping up in unexpected areas and creating overloads.

That’s fine when you’ve got a free role, but Redmond wasn’t playing there: he was on the right side of the diamond. The danger came when we lost the ball, as Redmond’s wandering left us open to the counter. He left Gevaro Nepomuceno in plenty of space, but Chesterfield weren’t good enough to find him. We might not be so lucky next time.

Salford’s coaches seem to be surprised that Bryan Hughes used Redmond in the hole, suggesting he should be used in the centre of midfield. Interestingly, Keates has only used him in a deeper role, but if he continues to do so, a balance between Redmond’s freedom to roam and his tactical discipline will have to be found.

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