IT wasn’t the Hollywood ending Wrexham wanted as a remarkable season ended in play-off heartbreak.

Following a slow start to a 14th campaign in non-league, the Reds really came good after Christmas.

Even though they still trailed leaders Stockport County by 11 points in March, there was no let-up from Phil Parkinson’s men who took the title race down to the final weekend of the regular season.

A 3-0 defeat at Dagenham - just the third league defeat in 2022 - proved irrelevant as Stockport got the win they needed to clinch the title with Wrexham settling for runners-up spot.

That guaranteed home advantage in the play-off semi-finals, and avoid an eliminator tie, but Wrexham were unable to make it count as they went down 5-4 following an epic contest against Grimsby Town.

Wrexham, beaten 1-0 by Bromley in the FA Trophy final at Wembley the previous weekend, lost the final three matches of a 2021-22 season that promised so much.

Finishing with 88 points from 44 matches is no mean feat - Stockport had six more - but failing to finish the job off and clinch promotion meant the Reds were also-rans.

Expectations were even higher than normal going into a first full-season under actor owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, with Parkinson armed with an increased budget which enabled hin to make big name signings.

Although Wrexham fell short in the end and they never achieved their goal, there were lots of positives.

Wrexham, playing in front of bumper Racecourse crowds and large away followings, were one of the form teams in the second half of the season when they registered some brilliant wins, and they finished as the highest scorers in the division.

It was a new-look side built by Parkinson that took time to gel but while there was disappointment in the final few games when Wrexham were unable to finish the job off, the squad won’t need wholesale changes this summer.

After going so close to automatic promotion, Wrexham can once again challenge for the title in 2022-23 with a few more additions in key areas.

Although the club is now preparing for a 15th season in non-league rather than mixing with likes of Tranmere and Bradford in the fourth tier, Wrexham will be ready to go again come August.

Parkinson has not even celebrated his one-year anniversary in The Racecourse hotseat, having been appointed manager on July 1, and it was all change when he replaced Dean Keates after Wrexham missed out on the play-offs in 2020-21.

Jay Harris and Mark Carrington were among those shown the door while fans’ favourite Shaun Pearson opted to sign for Grimsby.

Prolific striker Paul Mullin and Aaron Hayden were among the high profile signings and Wrexham, armed with lots more new arrivals, kicked off the season with a 2-2 draw at Solihull who scored a last gasp equaliser, Mullin and David Jones on target for the Reds.

Jake Hyde scored twice in a 2-0 win at Eastleigh before Parkinson, who added Ben Tozer and James Jones, saw his team held to draws by Notts County and Southend.

A 1-0 win at home to Woking maintained the unbeaten start to the season but a first defeat came at Grimsby despite Hyde giving Wrexham the lead in the 3-1 loss.

Bumper Racecourse crowds were the norm and Mullin got the only goal in the win against Dagenham although Wrexham then went down 2-1 at Stockport.

The Reds began October by drawing 1-1 against Chesterfield while Mullin, Hayden and Shaun Brisley scored in a 3-0 victory at Barnet but Wrexham, boosted by big followings on their travels, were struggling for consistency and the 3-2 defeat at Maidenhead will be best remembered for McElhenney and Reynolds making a surprise appearance.

Nearly 10,000 supporters were in attendance as the actors watched their first game at The Racecourse but they never saw a win against Torquay as Harry Lennon’s early goal was cancelled out.

Wrexham, knocked out of the FA Cup in round one by Harrogate, then embarked on a five-game unbeaten run.

They started the spell off in style with two big away victories at Aldershot (5-0) and King’s Lynn (6-2), and a goalless draw with Wealdstone was followed by two more wins against Halifax (2-1) - Mullin struck at the death - and Bromley (2-0).

November ended with a first home loss against Yeovil, but 1-0 victories against Dover and Weymouth got Wrexham back on track.

The final game of 2021 was a 2-0 success over Altrincham which enabled the Reds to climb up to third in the table, Hayden and Bryce Hosannah the marksmen.

The new year began with a 3-1 defeat at Notts County despite Reece Hall-Johnson’s stunning early strike putting Wrexham ahead, but it proved to be a rare loss.

Wrexham bounced back as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Yeovil while Parkinson, who strengthened his squad during the January transfer window, saw club record transfer signing Ollie Palmer net the winner on his debut as the Reds beat Grimsby 1-0.

Goals had been hard to come by at The Racecourse and Wrexham were held to a 1-1 draw by Maidenhead before February began with a 1-0 defeat at Torquay.

But the response was brilliant as Wrexham went onto win the next seven games.

A 3-0 FA Trophy success over Boreham Wood was followed by a 2-1 victory at Wealdstone, and Palmer bagged a brace as the Reds won 2-0 at title contenders Chesterfield.

The goals began to flow at home as Wrexham beat Aldershot (4-1), King’s Lynn (2-0) and Boreham Wood (4-2), while James Jones’ late strike meant the Reds overcame Notts County 2-1 on their travels to reach the FA Trophy semi-final.

Promotion was the priority and when Wrexham’s winning run came to an end with a goalless draw at Bromley - goalkeeper Rob Lainton suffered a season-ending wrist injury - there was a lot of ground to make up on leaders Stockport.

But Wrexham got back to winning ways by beating Halifax 3-1 and March ended with a never-to-be-forgotten 6-5 victory over Dover after the Reds trailed 5-2, Jordan Davies’ last-gasp goal securing a memorable win.

Parkinson’s men left it late to defeat Stockport 2-0 in the last four of the Trophy, Mullin scoring two brilliant goals to put Wrexham in the Wembley final, and there were league wins against Barnet (6-0) and Eastleigh (3-2) before a 1-1 draw with Solihull kept the Reds on the tails of the Hatters in the title race.

Wrexham beat Altrincham 4-0 thanks to Davies, leading scorer Mullin (2) and Palmer but the 15-game unbeaten run came to an end at Woking who came from behind to triumph 2-1.

However, Wrexham weren’t done and wins against Weymouth (6-1) and Southend (1-0) kept the title dream alive going into May.

A 1-1 draw at Boreham Wood, who scored a late equaliser, was a blow but Wrexham turned on the style to beat Stockport 3-0 and deny the Hatters the chance to clinch automatic promotion in front of a 10,000-plus Racecourse crowd, deadly strike duo Palmer (2) and Mullin getting the goals.

Wrexham needed to win at Dagenham on the final day and hope that Stockport lost against Halifax to clinch the title but both results went against the Reds, and a below par performance in the Trophy final against Bromley meant there was no silverware in the cabinet.

It all came down to the play-offs and the Reds suffered more heartbreak as Grimsby won a dramatic semi-final as the promotion bid came to a disappointing end.

It was a case of so close yet so far, and Wrexham will have to do it all again in 2022-23.