Hall-Johnson Brings Back the Good Times

The screaming in the front room brought my wife downstairs to see what was going on. And that was just for the equaliser.

It might have only been mid-December, but Christmas came early in our house this year.

There’s nothing like a late winner, and it’s an unfamiliar sensation for Wrexham fans. We’ve been starved of that fantastic rush which comes with pinching a result out of nowhere.

What happened on Tuesday is the second best way to win a football match. The best experience is beating Chester 18-0, but until we get to savour that sublime moment (Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds think we might be waiting a long time), we can savour the pure joy of Weymouth.

We stank the place out in the first half, turned it round with 2 goals in 2 minutes, and then scored the winner with 5 seconds left of the five added minutes, when our full back mishit a cross over the keeper’s head into the top corner.

Reece Hall-Johnson meant that.

It feels like it was a long time since we scored an injury time winner. That’s because it is! Indeed, it’s a heck of a while since we even equalised in added time, thanks to one of the more easily-forgotten players of recent years: Cole Stockton, on loan from Tranmere, scrambled the ball home at Gateshead in the first game after Brian Flynn returned to the club to assist Bryan Hughes, in February 2019.

For the last time we’ve scored an injury time winner you have to go all the way back to October 2017, and even then we didn’t score it! Our first win at Dagenham came courtesy of a 93rd minute own goal by Craig Robson, as the home team’s skipper prodded home a Paul Rutherford cross.

Erroneously credited to Scott Boden initially, it was corrected swiftly, which means we have to go back even further to find the most recent time an injury time winner has been scored by a Wrexham player.

That honour falls to John Rooney, who kept his nerve to score a decisive penalty against Boreham Wood in January 2017.

Let’s get even more complicated. If you want to find the last time a Wrexham player scored a winner in added time in open play, you uncover a very quirky statistic.

The last time that happened was in August 2016, when Mark Carrington scored in the 91st minute against Solihull Moors, and just two games earlier Paul Rutherford achieved the same feat with a spectacular curling shot at Guiseley. That means Wrexham players scored injury time winners in 2 out of 3 games, and then we had to wait 207 games, spread over a period of 4 years and 4 months, for Hall-Johnson to repeat the trick!

Just to put that into a bit of context, on the night Carrington scored that goal, Hall-Johnson was coming off the bench to make the third appearance of his career as a 21–year old for Maidstone – he’d make the first start of his career a fortnight later – Barack Obama was President of the United States, and the first Deadpool film was just finishing its run in British cinemas.

The equaliser brought my wife charging downstairs to see what all the screaming was about because I popped up to see her at half time – I feel it’s important to make her feel she’s still part of the family on match day! – and told her how abysmal we’d been in the first half.

She knew what the final score was without popping downstairs: the screaming was accompanied by the stomping footsteps of my son and I dancing around like idiots. You just can’t beat an injury time winner: it spreads joy no matter what the season is.

Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another three years for the next one.

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