No worries about first day nerves

Reporter:

Mark Griffiths

History is on our side tomorrow as we’ve got an excellent record on the first day of the season in recent years, especially at The Racecourse, winning the last four times we’ve opened at home.

Since we dropped into the Conference we’ve specialised in spectacular false dawns. We beat Eastbourne Borough 3-0 last season and got the better of Stevenage Borough 5-0 a year earlier.

However, we all know that we didn’t set the division alight in either campaign. Indeed, we were dealt an immediate dose of reality on both occasions as we then went on to lose our next match.

The last time we lost at home on the opening day was back in August 2000, when Bristol City beat us 2-0. Since then we’ve only lost one first game, home or away.

That reverse was three years ago at Darlington, and began a season which ended in relegation to the Conference.

Last season’s clash with Cambridge at The Racecourse was a disaster for Wrexham as an easy win was frittered away, and some of the players appear to have played a high price.

We strolled into a two-goal lead as early as the 14th minute through goals by Christian Smith and Andy Mangan, and a toothless United really didn’t look like
even threatening to pull themselves back into the match.

An 83rd minute Cambridge goal came out of the blue and worse was to come.

In injury time Adam Marriott, a substitute who had never started a senior game and whose only previous goal came against Ilkeston in the FA Cup, equalised with a long range shot which beat Sam Russell at the near post, and it could have got worse as Marriott broke clear moments later but was denied by the keeper.

It turned out to be Russell’s last game for Wrexham; he was dropped for the next match and never regained his place.

In fact, Saunders might have drawn a few conclusions from the match as the next game was Lamine Sakho’s last for the club and Mike Williams only played two more.

That result ended an excellent run of results at The Racecourse against Cambridge. We’d won our previous three games against them here, hitting the net
12 times and not letting any in.

Those results include two 5-0 wins, one of which saw Lee Jones equal the club record for goals in a league match by scoring all five in a match which saw Andy
Morrell play the role of provider brilliantly.

He missed out on the scoring a year later too when we again beat Cambridge 5-0, although he had put a hat trick past Carlisle United the previous weekend.

Instead Paul Barrett, Brian Carey, Steve Roberts, Carlos Edwards and Jones hit the net as promotion was virtually assured.

Our previous home defeat to Cambridge was in January 2000, when we lost 2-1 to them in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Their last league win at Wrexham came in May 1995 when they won 1-0.

Wrexham’s new captain Dean Keates, meanwhile, will celebrate being handed the
captain’s armband by making his 500th career appearance tomorrow.

See full story in the Leader

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