LIGHTS, cameras, action and two sets of fans and teams who will do anything and everything possible to win tonight’s much talked about derby.
All the ingredients are there for a ripsnorter of a clash for the supporters who have got tickets for the game and for the thousands at home, who are watching the game live on television.
But is there a real match-winner on the pitch? That’s the big question in a game that could be more thud-and-blunder than a free-scoring encounter that would have everyone on the edge of their seats – and sofas!
Wrexham’s poor goals return is a constant concern for manager Dean Keates and the fans, who wanted to see a bit more flair on the pitch. But the Reds are third and could go joint top with a win.
Marcus Kelly – if moved into the middle – may be that man to win it for Wrexham while Marcus Bignot claims his Blues are down to the bare bones.
That could be a bit of pre-match kidology because Chester do have plenty of front-line options in a match where attack may be the best form of attack.
Ross Hannah – a pre-season target for Wrexham – hasn’t exactly been on fire since re-signing for Chester. Could this be his night?
NICK HARRISON: CHESTER 1 WREXHAM 1
FROM the outside looking in it appears to be a derby both teams will be eager not to lose.
Dean Keates’ high-flying Reds know that a draw at their bitter rivals wouldn’t be the end of the world, while Marcus Bignot’s battling Blues would take a point, which is enough to move them out of the relegation zone.
It’s hard to envisage fireworks at the Deva Stadium tonight with Keates’ Reds not known for giving much away at the back and, as of yet, they’ve failed to hit the heights perhaps expected going forward.
In that respect, both teams might fancy that one goal will win this contest, which is expect to be played out in front of a near-capacity crowd with the bubble restrictions a thing of the past – for now at least.
Marcus Bignot appears a shrewd operator and he’s certainly got plenty of firepower with Hannah, Akintunde, Bell, Zanzala, Archer and White all pushing for a starting role.
Whether Chester have enough defensive stability, especially with John McCombe a doubt, to keep Wrexham out remains to be seen and Bignot’s hosts might need two goals to win.
There are certainly more questions than answers at the moment, but all will be said and done by 11pm tonight and it wouldn’t be a major surprise if the points were shared.
TOM NORRIS: CHESTER 1 WREXHAM 1
THE Deva hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Wrexham in recent seasons – but that can change.
Wrexham haven’t won on four trips over the border since Chester were reformed, returning to Wales with two draws and two defeats.
But Dean Keates’ side can put the record straight by picking up three points and bragging rights.
Wrexham have been outstanding defensively and hard to break down, the platform for the best start to a season for a couple of years.
Going forward Wrexham been been less impressive with the Reds often struggling to create chances or failing to take the opportunities that come along.
’Solid if not spectacular’ sums up Wrexham but you can’t knock Keates, who has found a way of getting results.
If Wrexham are more of an attacking threat, they can clinch victory that will take them joint top of the table, even if it is only for a few days.
Lowly Chester need points for a different reason and you would expect the Blues to be fired up for the derby, but so will Wrexham.
RICHARD WILLIAMS: CHESTER 0 WREXHAM 1
IT’S a first taste of the cross-border derby for Chester boss Marcus Bignot and he’ll be under no illusions as what to expect from tonight’s clash.
Flying tackles, 50/50s, physical battles, crackling atmosphere, it’s all that we love about the cross-border derby, and if it’s anything like the last meeting between the two old rivals back in January, we’re in for a belter.
On that occasion, James Alabi cancelled out John Rooney’s opener for Dean Keates’ side, but it’ll be a pitch full of very different players on the field tonight.
Keates has built the meanest defence in the league and Chester – by no means prolific scorers – could struggle to break down the superb centre-half pairing of Manny Smith and Shaun Pearson, who Bignot managed at Grimsby.
However, such stats often go out of the window on nights like these, when emotions run high and attack can often be the best form of defence, and I’m backing Chester to make a breakthrough at some stage especially given their past three displays which have been very encouraging.
Whether they can hold out against the title-chasing Reds is another matter and it could well be a case of honours even – not a bad result for either manager.
CHARLIE CROASDALE: CHESTER 1 WREXHAM 1
IF THE old adage is to be believed, form counts for nothing in derbies such as this one.
Hosts Chester will certainly hope that’s true given the abject sequence of results that have led into this game.
But a spirited comeback from Marcus Bignot’s side against Eastleigh may have provided a timely boost for a side with one win in seven in all competitions.
Bignot’s passion came to the fore when he celebrated Chester’s injury-time winner against Barrow with the Deva faithful. That passion will be redundant if Chester’s defence remains as porous as it has done recently, with only one clean sheet in their last six outings.
Wrexham’s miserly back line offers a neat counterpoint to Chester’s and has provided the platform for their promotion challenge this term.
The likes of James Jennings, Manny Smith and Shaun Pearson are all justifiably proud of their miserly goals against stats with only 12 goals shipped thus far.
Recent history hasn’t blessed this fixture with many goals and I expect one goal to prove decisive here.
DAN HEALD: CHESTER 0 WREXHAM 1
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