IT’S been another remarkable 12 months at The Racecourse - but for all of the wrong reasons.

After the season before’s promotion challenge, the 2019/20 campaign started with Wrexham chasing that elusive return to the Football League, but it finished in relief as the Reds almost exited the National League at the wrong end, slumping to their worst-ever position in November as they propped up the division.

Dean Keates has slowly, but surely, plugged the leaks in what looked like a sinking ship for a worrying amount of time, leading the Reds out of the drop zone when time was called on the campaign due to the coronavirus crisis.

It’s seems like longer than a year that Bryan Hughes’ Reds were cruelly dumped out of the play-offs by Eastleigh after extra-time as Danny Hollands scored the type of goal that he will never replicate, even in his own back garden.

Hughes did what almost every Wrexham fan wanted after that defeat, adding to his attacking options with the likes of JJ Hooper and Devonte Redmond signed permanently and Mark Harris brought in on-loan from Cardiff.

The Reds boss was also able to persuade key men, like goalkeeper Rob Lainton and full-back James Jennings, to remain at The Racecourse, and everything appeared on track for a shot at promotion.

There was a new style in place with emphasis on scoring more goals, and seven points from the first four matches was a respectable tally.

A home win over Barrow, who were top when the campaign was ended, was followed up by a 2-2 draw at Boreham Wood as Wrexham surrendered a two-goal lead with seven minutes remaining.

Defeat at Dover was brushed aside as Bobby Grant saw red before the break and Shaun Pearson handed the hosts victory with a late own goal, before Harris struck to hand 10-men Wrexham a 1-0 home win over Halifax.

Positive results against three of the current top-seven suggests the Wrexham started the season strongly, the fans full of positivity as over 1,600 of them headed to Meadow Lane for the 1-1 draw at Notts County.

Winger Ben Tollitt, who scored four times in 13 appearances during last season’s play-off challenge, arrived back at the club on-loan, to offer another reason to be optimistic that lessons were being learned.

But Tollitt’s arrival, through no fault of his own, coincided with a dire run of results as Wrexham failed to win any of their next eight matches, drawing and losing four apiece.

The last game of that winless run was a 3-2 defeat at Fylde - which goalkeeper Christian Dibble will want to erase from his memory - saw Hughes relieved of his duties.

Brian Flynn filled Hughes’ shoes on a caretaker basis with the shortlist of candidates to replace the former midfielder including Andy Morrison, Ian Culverhouse, Jim Bentley and Keates.

It’s fair to say that Keates was not the selection a large section of the Wrexham fanbase would have gone with given his sudden departure for Walsall in March 2018 and the Reds subsequently slipping from title challengers to outside the play-off places altogether.

But the Wrexham board went with the familiarity of Keates, who had turned around a struggling side during his first spell in charge.

Flynn managed to end the winless run before Keates returned to the hotseat, beating fellow strugglers Ebbsfleet, although the need for change was evident as a 3-1 defeat at Solihull Moors and a 1-1 draw with Woking followed.

It was a tough period for Keates as he returned in early October as Wrexham embarked on a run of 11 games in six weeks, including half-a-dozen cup matches - the majority of which he could have done without as he tried to get the Reds back on track.

Keates had to wait until his fifth league game for a first win as Luke Young scored a stunner in a 1-0 success over Bromley, but three successive cup matches punctuated any feelgood factor that victory brought.

An entertaining 3-3 draw at home to Yeovil was followed up by a 1-0 home defeat to Fylde and a 2-1 loss at Ebbsfleet, who climbed off the bottom of the table at Wrexham’s expense.

The club had not sunk as low in their 155-year history and the board were forced to issue a statement apologising for what was happening on the pitch.

It was now or never for Wrexham, and the players delivered. Omari Patrick, signed on-loan from Bradford City, struck twice as the Reds ended a near eight-month wait for an away win by sinking Eastleigh.

And just four days later, Wrexham had back-to-back wins since the latter stages of the previous season, Patrick and Jennings on target to sink Solihull Moors.

But the Reds were not out of the woods as an unwanted FA Trophy trip to Halifax ended in a 4-0 thrashing, before a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sutton United.

Keates was also forced to deny that hitman Hooper had refused to play for the club as he recovered from an injury picked up at Dagenham back in October.

Hooper made his first start for two months at home to Chorley on Boxing Day and delivered the goods, scoring twice in a crucial 3-1 success, although he could do little about a 2-0 defeat at Maidenhead 48 hours later.

Another victory over Chorley marked the new year in positive fashion, but Aldershot left The Racecourse three days later with a 2-1 success.

Keates had seen enough by now to know what, or indeed who, could get Wrexham out of trouble, youngsters Dan Jarvis and Davis Keillor-Dunn arriving in north Wales, the former scoring on debut as Woking were brushed aside 3-0.

Jordan Ponticelli was next through the door, the striker joining on-loan from Coventry in time to feature as a late substitute in a fine 2-0 success over high-flying Harrogate Town.

Nine points from 12 in January, including eight goals and three clean sheets, meant Wrexham went into February full of confidence - and without top scorer Bobby Grant, who had been sent on-loan to Accrington.

A goalless home draw with Dagenham prevented Wrexham registering three successive league wins since April the previous year, before Curtin Weston’s 94th minute goal handed Chesterfield a dramatic 3-2 home win over the Reds, who had led twice.

New boys Keillor-Dunn and Ponticelli combined to make sure Wrexham bounced back in the right manner by winning at Bromley, who became the second side the Reds had done the double over.

A 3-0 humbling at Yeovil mean Wrexham were still looking over their shoulder at the drop zone, which loomed ever closer as Eastleigh left The Racecourse with a point in a goalless draw.

And that was that as far as Wrexham were concerned as the coronavirus pandemic led to their trip to leaders Barrow postponed, and even though a handful of National League games were played, Keates’ men were out of the bottom four by a single point.

It’s a case of ‘job done’ for Keates and Wrexham, who will remain safe if the powers that be decide to complete the season on a points-per-game basis.

Survival wasn’t something to celebrate, but avoiding following the likes of Chester, York and Stockport into National League North was hopefully the first step on the road to better things.