Sunday, 30 March 2008

A Good Reason To Avoid The Conference

I must be a visual learner as a thread on Red Passion moved me to make the rather dodgy home made map you can see above. The black dots show the teams that would be in The Conference next season if the season ended today and the second placed teams won the play-offs. We'll certainly be racking up the miles, although I suppose London Reds will get a chance to see a few more games!!!

The red dots are the sides in the relegation places-typically the only sides that are fairly local are going down! Of course that could change if some of them rally, but even then, don't hold your breath; of the seven closest clubs to us, six of them are the bottom six of the Conference and the seventh is Telford, who are only in line for the Conference North play-offs! The other sides in the Conference North play-offs are all further away.
Oh well, better pray for petrol prices to collapse. I worked out at the start of this season that going to every Wrexham game would entail travelling enough miles to go to New York-next season I might get to Vladivostok!

A Few Hard Facts

In league games which Richard Hope has played in this season we have conceded a goal every 58.51 minutes. In league games which Richard Hope has not played in this season we have conceded a goal every 118.71 minutes.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Sums it up really

A nice little microcosm of our season that. Brian Little had to clear out a lot of dead wood but he couldn't do the full job in such a short time scale and this afternoon put it in a nutshell: it's not the youngsters or the new arrivals but the senior pros who aren't recent arrivals who let us down.

Llewellyn in the rain


Team news

He's gone bold-very bold! Done on the wing and three attacking midfielders. So it's ward, hope, evans, bolland, spender, done, hall, Llewellyn, aiston, broughton, proctor. Rain's starting to come down.

Spot the slope!

Remember the old away end?

Well the good news is it looks rather better now. The bad news is it's the home end now!


Colonised Already!

Wrexham fans playing footy in the Underhill forecourt!

Don't want to worry you...

But if you have loved ones on the fans' coach, don't expect them back early! Their driver just asked me for directions to the ground!

Hang on!

But I just went to the pub by the ground and had the best pub meal ever! And good beer too! Maybe it will be our day. Or..whisper it..could it possibly be that my luck in finding decent grub and negotiating the underground smoothly has no bearing on the result?

Nah! No real football fan would think that! Now where's that lucky codpiece? Better pop into the bog and make sure it's in place for kick off!


My lovely Thai restaurant's shut! What did I say about luck?

Off to Barnet!

I'm writing this on the train to Barnet at the start of one of my favourite trips of the season. I just hope that next time I make it isn't because Barnet have got relegated to The Conference!

A relaxing ride down there and a good, cheap Thai curry on the main road round the corner from Underhill make it a good day out, but whether the game lives up to the preamble depends on what last Monday actually meant.

If you're a pessimist (or possibly a realist!) then it was a horrible missed opportunity-the worst side we've played in years and we failed to put them away.

If you're an optimist though, then maybe there's something to take from it. We certainly created chances and if we continue to play like that then maybe we could have a basis to push on from. The other sides around us are erratic, and it's very much in their favour. They crash and burn one week, then wallop someone, only to collapse again. However, three points for a win helps a side like that, rather than what we are-a rather solid side which is very hard to beat but equally finds it hard to turn one point into three. Was the Dagenham game a sign that we are becoming more of an attacking force, capable of grabbing wins?

I suspect Brian Little's selection today will not encourage the free-wheeling approach. I don't think he'll gamble with Matty Done as a wing back, and I'm not saying he should either. It makes sense to have Mike Williams there to shore us up in an away game, especially as Little clearly felt the side was exposed at Brentford when he tried to be a bit more progressive. It won't change us from being a solid side that grinds out results either though.

Interestingly, Barnet are similar to the up-and-down sides around us. They have a young side which, if it gets a good start, can blow sides away, but if they don't they crumble. Let's hope our team of old lags can bully them into their shells.

Nearly there!

Everything's going well-arrive with no delays and then I find a shortcut to the ground that's only 400 yards from the station anyway! Let's hope my luck holds for the game!

Good Thames

I'm amazed the journey to Barnet's so smooth as obviously the whole city's got boat race fever! Honestly, why is it on prime time network TV? Does anyone care? I'm glad to be going to a proper sporting event instead-not a public schoolboy in sight (Drewe Broughton doesn't count because of his playing style!)


Just listening to the excellent Football Weekly podcast by The Guardian talking about the Johnstones Paint Trophy Final tomorrow and found myself getting excited at the prospect of certain Conference sides, including those relegated from the Football League the previous season, taking part in it. How desperate am I?

Half way there!

Past Birmingham now! Bright sunshine so far, so hopefully the chances of another milton keynes are zero!

Friday, 28 March 2008

New Dragon Talk Podcast

The new Dragon Talk podcast is up at featuring a preview of the Barnet game plus discussion on the future of our fringe players and where the Dagenham game leaves our chances of survival.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Eifion Retires

I feel very conflicted at this one, not least because I've never heard of someone retiring because they have a hamstring problem which is pretty much cleared up!
I suppose this is good news. Williams' last touch in professional football, if indeed it was, was his only goal for us and he showed little to justify the excitement which surrounded his arrival this Summer once he actually donned a Wrexham shirt. Likewise, if it's commuting which is really getting him down then he certainly doesn't have the appetite for the battle ahead.
Letting him go will take a chunk off the wage bill too, and if Brian Little can pull off a deadline-defying deal with that cash today we should be glad Williams has taken an early bow.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Tortured Maths

I don't usually see much point in trying to predict runs of matches to see how a league table will end up; recent results at the bottom of League Two show why that's a mug's game! However, I'm so desperate to see us somehow dig ourselves out of this mess that I feel a need to work out the likely results the other sides will achieve, just to see if I really do believe we can make it, so here goes.

Assuming we beat our rivals in the big head-to-heads, as we surely have to in order to survive, I'd have thought these are the most probable outcomes:

MANSFIELD-hardly the most intimidating run-in. One serious promotion contender and a lot of off-form sides:
Notts Co (a) D
Wrexham (h) L
Barnet (h) D
Stockport (a) L
Macclesfield (a) D
Shrewsbury (h) W
Rotherham (h) D
Dagenham (a) L

Accrington (h) D
Wrexham (a) L
Mansfield (h) D
Bury (a) L
Chesterfield (h) L
Chester (a) W

NOTTS COUNTY-the nastiest looking run:
Mansfield (h) D
Bury (a) L
Rochdale (a) L
Accrington (h) D
Wrexham (a) L
Wycombe (h) L
Chesterfield (a) L

DAGENHAM-I can see them really struggling:
Chesterfield (h) L
Accrington (a) L
Rochdale (h) L
Rotherham (a) L
Darlington (a) L
Mansfield (h) W

So they'd line up as follows:
Macclesfield Town 46
Dagenham 45
Notts County 42
Mansfield Town 40

We'd have at least nine more points than we do now by virtue of beating all three of them, giving us forty-two points. So if we can do that we'd have a real chance of survival. I admit I've probably been a little optinistic in my predictions, but it does show that we can still do this.

Three points against Dagenham would have made me feel a lot more convinced by my argument though!

Clutching At Straws

Last Saturday reminded me of an epic match in our not so distant past, and as I started researching the column I was surprised to find that the two games were played on the same date. Coincidentally, our match against Dagenham and Redbridge on Easter Monday took place exactly eighteen years after a titanic clash with Colchester United.

The two games shared a lot of similarities. In March 1990 we were adrift at the bottom of the table, staring The Conference in the face. We were desperate for goals in the second half and, driven on by a strong wind and a snowstorm at our backs, we penned the opposition into their own half.

Sadly, that's where the similarity ends.

We were 2-1 down to our main relegation rivals but took advantage of the elements to fight back, win 3-2 and catapult ourselves away from danger. Our inability to put Dagenham away in a similar manner leaves us with a mountain to climb.

I'm really struggling to think of when we last dominated a team so comprehensively, or created so many good chances in one match. As for when we last created so many good chances and took none of them, well I don't think I've ever seen that happen!

So can we escape the drop? A look at the table suggests not, but I'm going to try to make a case. After all, once you give up there's no point in going on.

Firstly, there are two main barometers of a team's health in my eyes; are they conceding goals and are they creating chances? There have been long stretches this season when Wrexham's answer to both was in the negative. Brian Little has worked hard to ensure that we no longer leak goals, a fact which is proved by the fact that Gavin Ward has conceded just ten goals in thirteen league games for us.

Furthermore, you can level plenty of criticisms at Monday's performance, but you certainly couldn't say that we didn't create chances! I suggested last week that we'd developed the attacking wherewithal to haul ourselves out of trouble, and I feel the Dagenham game bore that out; the problem was no-one applied the finish to the good attacking play.

If we continue to fulfil these two criteria then we still have a chance. We have games in hand, albeit difficult ones, and we do have games against our three main rivals for survival, so it's in our hands! But we're running out of time and have to start winning, probably tomorrow. Barnet are a mirror-image of us. They're young and inexperienced, capable of catching fire and walloping a side, but equally likely to fall apart if things don't go their way. We've got to make sure that the latter scenario unfolds. We probably would have taken four points from last Monday and tomorrow. To keep our survival hopes alive we just have to do it in the reverse order to how we thought we would.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

The Savage Truth!

I'm no fan of Robbie Savage-quite apart from his behaviour on the pitch, I feel he let Wales down badly. However, I don't think we should rush to harsh judgement over his latest pronouncement.

Looking for consistency from Savage, like Derby's season, is basically pointless. However, this story has a bit more gravity to it.

It's interesting how many away press boxes I go into where I'm greeted by a reporter from the other side who says he's Savage's main man and gets lots of great stories from him. That'll be because when you go to him for a quote he'll say the first thing that comes into his head, so the idea that he will come to play for Wrexham at the end of his career is a tale to be taken with a huge pinch of salt. I've met guys from Torquay to Preston who have a handy by-line in calling him and slapping down whatever comes out of his mouth. Frankly, they're exploiting his willingness to be open.

This story's different though. Chris Wathan is a sound bloke who's one of the few trying to actually get a bit of coverage for us on a wider scale. Unlike the reporters I mentioned earlier, he's a Welsh reporter, so his relationship with Savage is more natural and, dare I say it, not parasitic like certain others I could mention!

So this story is the logical bottom line on the whole saga. Savage probably won't be coming to play for us, he never was in my opinion, and frankly as he was never going to come back when there was a chance his legs could carry him at a decent level, I'm quite happy with that.

When he signs along with Kevin Ellison on Friday I might delete this though!

Lee Jones Injured

It's such a shame that a player like Lee Jones, who had terrific potential and ability, was constantly hobbled by injuries. When fit he was quick enough to get behind defenders and a very sharp finisher to the extent that Liverpool were willing to take a punt on him. Things could have turned out so differently for him, and I hope his latest set-back isn't as serious as the above report suggests.

A Little Perspective

Yesterday was hardly a good day, but the experiences of the last few weeks tell us not to panic, even if time is running short. I felt before the Brentford game that if we got ten points from the fifteen available in a run of five matches against sides in the bottom the table would look a lot better: That's still an achievable target. It'd be nice to get into the habit of winning soon though.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

It's official

Watching Wrexham text updates while standing in a queue for a viking longboat at legoland is hell!

Wrexham at Wembley!

Well this is the closest these two season ticket holders will get to a match today! And right now Wrexham are kicking off just twenty miles away!

Lego carey

Is that a young brian casey with the welsh premier cup? As you can tell, as i march round legoland my thoughts are absolutely not on football. Oh no, no way. Not at all.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

What's Twenty Miles Between Friends?

Brentford's perhaps my favourite away trip-a nice journey down on the train, then pop into one or two of the pubs at the corners of Griffin Park. WIth Roberts, Whitley and Sonner back in the squad, Saturday's a very interesting trip!

And I won't be making it! Rather inconsiderately, my lad has decided to have his tenth birthday on Saturday! And it's not as if I haven't brought him up right-he's a season ticket holder!!!!!

So while Wrexham battle for survival at Brentford I'll be a tantalising twenty miles away at Legoland!

There'll be no podcast, obviously, but normal service will be resumed on Monday!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

New Podcast

There's a new podcast up at called Dragon Talk. I thought it'd be interesting to have a weekly podcast for chatting about issues around The Racecourse to supplement the regular post-match podcasts, so feel free to give it a go!

The first one discusses Brian Little's tactical changes, the importance of our next few games, the impact of Gavin Ward and Drewe Broughton and the form of Rchard Hope.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Hurry Back!

Last Saturday left me feeling more confident about our survival than I have for some time, but the Faustian pact Brian Little struck to haul us out of trouble might still come back to haunt us.

The win over Bury was patchy at times, I admit; at 1-1 Bury looked the more likely winners for me. However, we stuck it out and earned three points in difficult circumstances which, frankly, is something we haven't done often of late. Furthermore, although the teams above us continued their annoying habit of winning, we pulled a lot of the sides just above us into the battle, and looking at the dreadful form of Chester and Shrewsbury we might be able to give them a real fright. After all, Chester are in freefall and just eight points better off than us having played three games more! That can hardly be a comfortable situation for the denizens of The Deva!

I'd feel a great deal more confident if we could get some key injured players back though. With Carl Tremarco and Neil Taylor both picking up nasty injuries the squad suddenly looks thin-thank heavens late lunges by Chris Llewellyn and Drewe Broughton didn't make proper contact and were viewed leniently by referee Howard Webb! Yet I'd be extremely confident of our survival if only the list of key men who seem to be on the verge of a return without quite getting back on the pitch could actually get fit.

Add Neil Roberts, Danny Sonner, Danny Williams, Jeff Whitley and Steve Evans (the rejuvenated model, not the 2007 version of course!) to the side and you've got a side with a resolution which you'd fancy to keep grinding out the points.

The problem, to an extent, is the inevitable gamble in Brian Little's reshuffle of the side. Bringing in experience was absolutely the right thing to do; we have a squad which doesn't collapse under pressure, doesn't panic when faced with a lengthy sentence at the bottom of the table. However, there was always likely to be a danger that injuries could be picked up by aging limbs. Paul Hall has already had a long spell out, so has Sam Aiston for that matter, and we desperately need to keep Dad's Army ticking over for another seven weeks or so if they are to win the war.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Football League is Upside Down!

It has been frustrating to see the side put together a decent run of results and yet still see us rock bottom of the table. You'd think the others strugglers would have the decency to drop loads of points and let us clamber over them, but instead they've been remarkably successful for a bunch of relegation-dodgers! However, a league table taken from Day One of the Little Revolution-the first time he put his newlook side out on the pitch, beating MK Dons 1-0, makes for an encouraging read.

So we'd be thirteenth of the season had started the moment Little's newlook side had set foot on the pitch, not far off the play-offs and with games in hand. The table wouldn't look so clever for Shrewsbury and Chester, who in the real world are starting to come into our sights. Perhaps it makes most frightening reading for Notts County though, the one side in the relegation battle which seem to be showing relegation form.

Four in Four

Can Michael Proctor save us? Hopefully his scoring form can continue-the last Wrexham player to score in four consecutive games for us was Mark Jones at the start of last season.
The constant impression Proctor gves is that he's something of a mercurial player. In and out of games and, as the season progresses, in and out of form. However, there's always a sense that he'll turn up with something-he's perhaps the one player we have who is likely to come up with the unexpected, the decisive.
The facts back that up. Quite apart from this little run of goals, he came on as sub in our last five games, managing just ninety-eight minutes in the process, and scored another two goals. The figures continue to back him up, and belie any notion that he is inconsistent, when you look at his record in a Wrexham shirt. Fourteen goals in thirty-one starts, pretty much a goal every other game, is a pretty tasty strike rate considering the fact that the highest position we've held since he arrived is nineteenth if you disregard a one week anomaly after two games this season when we were eighth by virtue of his two goals against Morecambe.
One of the things I like most about Proctor, quite apart from his goals, is his intelligence. he holds the ball up and brings others into play with his measured passing and good vision, and with Brian Little bringing in the likes of Paul Hall and Sam Aiston Proctor now has players with experience whose movement is more likely to be on his wavelength. Both hall and Aiston are comfortable playing out to in or in to out when they're on the flanks, and if you offer Proctor movement there's a good chance he'll spot you and find you.
Likewise Drewe Broughton is a valuable foil for Proctor. I love a big target man, as you might have noticed from my constant harking back to Jim Steel! Little's choice of big bruiser up front hasn't disappointed me! Broughton doesn't just win his fair share in the air, he causes ripples of disruption around him. Have you noticed how many centre backs have poor games when they're marking him, most notably Darlington's Steve Foster, one of the best defenders in the lower divisions who couldn't stop fouling him and had to be withdrawn at half time.
Broughton creates plenty of loose balls and holds it up well too, and the more scraps there are for Proctor to latch onto the more he should score.
Well I feel optimistic now-I didn't know five hundred words ago that I'd made us sound like a promotion side!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Bury Podcast

The Supporters Association's podcast is now up at featuring Brian Little, Drewe Broughton and Alan Knill.

Taylor on Crutches

Seeing Neil Taylor on crutches after the game was a bit of a dampener after a good hard-fought three points. He's going for an x-ray on his ankle and shin and Brian Little thought he could be out for a while.

Let's hope it's not as bad as first feared, and let's hope Carl Tremarco is alright as well. Admittedly in Mike Williams we have a player who can stand in admirably, but we'd have no cover for him. Maybe Brian will have to dip into the transfer market again-remember, one more new player and we equal the record for most players used in a season!

Hope that's right!

Don't know how clear the photo is but I hope the scoreboard's right-Wrecsam 99 Bury 0!

It's 442

Evans and bolland at the back, taylor in the middle. The side that finished at wycombe except bolland for williams

The Good Old Days

As we prepare to meet Bury there seems to be a certain symmetry in our fortunes, as our trip to Gigg Lane last December was a watershed in this miserable season. In scoring the winner in that match, Eifion Williams' last act in a Wrexham shirt seems symbolic somehow.

I hope the game at Bury doesn't end up being seen as a false dawn; a turning point in a failed season. It was Little's first win as Wrexham boss in his third game, and the optimism afterwards was immense. We were 23rd going into it but after winning the match leapt up to and, with a winnable game at Dagenham coming up, looked on the up. Well we all know what happened then! We were hammered 3-0, dropped back down to 23rd andf haven't got out of the bottom two since; we then went and lost our next seven games, a sequence which ensured we'd be where we are now, playing catch-up.

I don't believe in luck, so I'm not sure what to call it, but scoring a cathartic first goal for the club was supposed to open the floodgates, not lead to four months on the sidelines. Williams' misfortune seems to mirror Wrexham's injury recent woes; just when you feel a corner is being turned, something cruel happens.

I realised this when I looked at how many players are out for today's game. Neil Roberts, Danny Williams, Eifion Williams, Steve Evans, Mark Jones, Josh Johnson, Danny Sonner, Jeff Whitley and Rob Duffy are on the injured list. And that's a conservative estimate! Where's Silvio Spann for instance?

I suppose our injury problems make Brian Little's huge squad a virtue, not that he was delighted to inherit some of the £1.5k a week players he ended up with, I suspect!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Is a Change as Good as a Rest?

Managers are paid to make big decisions, and the choices Brian Little makes over the next couple of weeks are certainly not lacking in gravity; they will decide whether we relinquish our place in the Football League.
Little has correctly identified a need for a more cutting edge to add to the organisation he has instilled in the squad, and with a string of huge games on the horizon against sides at the bottom of the table, he needs to find it soon. A string of wins will give the table an unfamiliar rosy look, but a further series of draws will merely draw us deeper into the mire. I wonder if the events of Tuesday night might have suggested to Little a possible solution to our attacking dilemma?
Admittedly the wind played a big role in the game at Wycombe, but the switch to 4-4-2 made us a lot more threatening.
Furthermore, a switch to 4-4-2, or some variation on that theme, allows Sam Aiston a chance to influence affairs. I'm impressed by Aiston, and Tuesday wasn't the first time he's come on at half time as a winger and helped to turn a game as at Dagenham he made a similar impact.
If we can harness Aiston's ability to beat men down the flank we'll surely have a greater attacking presence, and the same goes for Paul Hall on the right. It's a testimony to Brian Little's judgement that my regular reaction to the players he has brought in is “I like the look of him.” It was no coincidence that Hall already has a goal to his credit even though he has only completed ninety minutes once since his arrival, a strike rate many members of the squad would love to replicate. He looks to have goals in him, and though playing over on the wing won't help him to get into scoring positions, with two strikers plus him on the pitch our goal threat rises.
Of course there is a danger in all of this. Little has done so well to turn us into a solid side which is hard to beat. We've only conceded two goals three times since the turn of the year, and there were extenuating circumstances in all those games: at Morecambe we scored an own goal, Peterborough's goals were both excellent free kicks, and at Wycombe we conceded twice through wind-assisted errors. None of those goals are down to the organisation of the back four, which is the factor Little can control.
But will he want to relinquish that control? Having made us hard to break down, is there a danger that by changing our shape the whole pack of cards will fall in on us? Could altering the balance of the side leave us exposed? They're tough questions, but managers are paid to find the right answers. It's a relief to know that it's someone with as much nous as Little who we're trusting to get them correct.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Tremendous New Wrexham Site

Take a look at It's a brilliant new site comprising all the news feeds you could imagine on Wrexham F.C. This looks like it's immediately your first stop for Wrexham news-the only decision's whether to favourite it or make it your homepage!

Extra Podcast

There's an extra podcast up at on whether Brian Little should make drastic changes to give us a cutting edge.

Wycombe Podcast

The Wycombe podcast is now up at featuring Brian Little, Gareth Evans and Neil Taylor.

Monday, 10 March 2008

It's Time For Nicholson!

I admit Stuart Nicholson hasn't been too threatening up front for us, but I hope he starts tomorrow night.

My reasoning? It's quite simple. Paul Hall is returning from injury and is no spring chicken, so asking him to play two games in three days seems a bit daft. Add in the fact that while Nicholson hasn't been terrifying defenders with his predatory instincts, he does work his socks off stopping them from getting forward, and he might be just the defensive forward we need for a tough away game.

A point tomorrow would be a terrific result, and Nicholson up front would be a step towards achieving it, I reckon

You Can't Help Gloating!

It was a perfect case of schadenfreude on Sunday.

Chester could have scored a few but were repelled by a goalkeeper they released at the start of the year. Ward showed City what they threw away with his virtuoso display, which included one save right out of the top drawer.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the save in question was made from a player who turned down the chance to sign for us six weeks ago?

And to my eyes the other outstanding performances came from Phill Bolland, also released at Christmas by Chester, and Drewe broghton, one of five ex-Cestrians who were on the pitch for us at The Deva!

Factor in scoring our opening goal within a minute of a City goal being disallowed when some refs would have deemed it legal, plus the fact that Chester must have seen a chance to play their greatest rivals at home when they're bottom of the pile as a real chance to break their dismal run of form, and Sunday couldn't have been much sweeter!

There's still a sense of confusion in realising I've never felt so happy at being three points behind Macclesfield though!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Brian Little at Chester

Chester podcast

Click here for the podcast, featuring Brian Little, Michael Proctor, Mike Williams and hero Gavin Ward.

Great result-now let's get back to business!

It's odd to feel we're still bottom after a fighting win at Chester like today's! I suppose it shows that the Chester game is something separate from reality. As I've suggested before, it's a game which feels different from the others, a game where the usual rules of engagement don't apply. Thankfully it fell in our favour and even if there is a sense of the Chester derby being unlike any other league game, those three points feel real enough to me!

We rode our luck as Gavin Ward's excellence kept Chester at bay. City didn't play like a side which had suffered such a bad run of results as they kept plugging away despite things going wrong-most notably the first half turning point where a possibly generous decision to disallow their goal turned into a lead for us within a minute!

The thing is to keep going now. We've halved the gap to Macclesfield, but now we must build on that achievement. We only have a day's recuperation before the long trip to Wycombe, and on the same night Macclesfield slog down to Dagenham. We mustn't let them get out of our sights again; as long as we're within a game of overtaking them, especially as we've three games in hand over them, it's all there to play for.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Too Bad To Be Easy

Let me tell you something which worries me. Chester are in awful form.

I know I should be glad, but it seems we have a horrible habit of breaking teams' bad runs.

Chester have certainly been in an awful state lately. In their last fifteen games they've won one and drawn two. Their last clean sheet was straight after they'd drawn 2-2 with us in Brian Little's first game as our boss, eighteen games ago in early December, and the only time they've kept the opposition at bay in twenty-three matches, stetching back to early November.

However, the last time we played a side in such grim form was when we went to Dagenham, and look what happened there!

Are you a cup half full person or...

Not sure what to make of tomorrow's referee. Andy D'urso certainly has plenty of experience, but Premiership refs tend to act like buffoons when they slum it with us.

On the positice side, the last time he reffed us was for a huge away derby win as we sought to evade relegation to the Conference; last season's 1-0 win at Shrewsbury.

On the other hand, he's just had a nightmare week; he sent off Stoke's Andy Griffin, a decision which was rescinded after D'Urso'd seen the match video. Then in midweek he gave another controversial red card and added seven minutes of injury time, during which the winner was scored.

Still, I don't care if he has a good game tomorrow, as long as his decisions go our way!!


Here's a sign of how unsettled Wrexham have been over the last couple of years; in the last four games against Chester we've used thirty-five different players! With plenty more in line to make their derby debuts tomorrow, the figure could look even more remarkable in twenty-four hours time.

It should come as no surprise though, as we equalled the club record for most players used in a season last time round and are only one player short of equalling that figure in this campaign!

Time for fighting spirit

I'm not sure what the opposite of a summit meeting is, a base camp meeting perhaps, but that's what the Mansfield game was. And I think it's fair to say it didn't exactly turn out as planned.

Still, it certainly isn't the end of the road although, caught up in the emotion of the non-occasion, it felt like it was when we were 1-0 down while Macclesfield were 1-0 up and safety was theoretically nine points away.

Thankfully things changed by the end of the game, although not as much as we might have hoped. There's no point in anyone sticking their heads in the sand. The spectre of the Conference is a looming, disturbing presence right there in the middle of our lives which must be negotiated no matter how agonising and tortuous the journey, like the building site on Island Green. The key thing is for the squad to not get disheartened by that fact but keep plugging away and focus on ourselves and not others.

That's easier said than done, I admit. Brian Little has done exactly the right thing, addressing the crisis of a team which had completely imploded by building from the back and constructing a well-organised side which is hard to beat. Of course that means that scoring goals is sometimes a problem as we focus more on getting our house in order than creating at the other end.

If we weren't in the position we're in I'd see things as looking very rosy; Little has brought in some good players, they're well-drilled and you can see the next step is to turn the corner and start to develop some spontaneity at the other end. The problem is time's hardly on our side.

Maybe having a derby game next is no bad thing. Despite the high stakes, last Saturday's match didn't really have the feel of a do-or-die battle for survival. On Sunday there's no chance of the game petering out as it's bound to be played at a hundred miles an hour. Maybe that's just what the players need to shake the cobwebs out of their systems. There was a clear build-up of nervous tension in the side last week, but this week it'll surely be a case of opening the throttle as the first whistle goes and looking to get at them.

Rafa Benitez said something interesting last week, which was something of a novelty in itself! He suggested he succeeds in Europe but not domestically because in the Champions League there's more scope to influence a game by tactical means, but the Premier League is a different kettle of fish altogether.

I see what he means, and if it's true at the top echelon of the pyramid, it's doubly true at our level. A derby game's a chance to forget about the table and just get stuck in to a good, competitive game of football. Hopefully that's exactly what we need.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Deep Breath...

This time last week if you'd offered me four points out of nine over this key run of home games I'd have been a little disappointed. Right now I'd jump at the prospect!

There hasn't been a bigger game at The Racecourse since the Boston showdown, and we need a win. It wouldn't take us off the bottom of the table, but we can't allow that big gap between us and safety to remain for much longer; it brings with it a real danger of it growing every time we don't win a game.

And we're up against a side which has won its last five away games. Gulp.....

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