Boreham Wood v Wrexham AFC
Saturday 22nd October 2022, 3.00pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League
With the National League returning following FA Cup action last weekend, a hotly-anticipated top-of-the-table clash is set to occur with second place Wrexham making the trip to third place Boreham Wood, in front of what is looking like a record league attendance.
IN FOCUS: WREXHAM AFC
North Wales outfit Wrexham are a side on the rise after Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney decided to purchase the club in November 2020. Following their relegation from League Two in 2008, the Red Dragons have struggled to bounce back and have achieved just five top seven finishes since, but have fast become one of the division’s heavyweights. A bittersweet campaign last time out saw them narrowly miss out on the league title before falling short in the play-off semi-final to eventual winners Grimsby Town, but they reacted by strengthening in the summer with the likes of Elliot Lee, Anthony Forde and Jordan Tunnicliffe arriving from Football League clubs along with Jacob Mendy Mendy and Sam Dalby signing from fellow National League sides Boreham Wood and Southend United respectively. The Red Dragons have become a real force to be reckoned with, losing just twice this season and have even won all seven of their home games this season, currently sitting just a point behind league leaders Notts County.
LAST TIME OUT
Wrexham 3-2 Blyth Spartans
Tuesday 18th October 2022
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Replay
After Blyth Spartans forced a replay with a hard-fought draw in Northumberland, Wrexham finally overcame the Green Army with a 3-2 win in North Wales.
The hosts took just 11 minutes to take a two-goal lead with Ollie Palmer flicking Paul Mullin’s cross past Alex Mitchell minutes before Mullin got in on the action and extended the scoreline with an exquisite header from Anthony Forde’s cross. Jordan Davies made it three shortly before half time with a wonderful left-footed strike, sending the Red Dragons into the break with a comfortable lead.
Although the game seemed all but won against a side who offered little compared to their performance at home, a second half resurgence from the visitors saw them net twice in quick succession. JJ O’Donnell’s brilliant run from the halfway line ended in the 30-year old smashing the ball past Mark Howard to make it 3-1, with Michael Richardson pulling another goal back minutes later with a perfectly-timed side-footed volley that curled past Howard, setting up a nervy final half-hour. The Wrexham backline remained strong though, and were able to quell Blyth’s momentum. With Richardson slicing a shot wide with seconds to go the job was done, with the North Welsh outfit setting up a First Round tie with Oldham Athletic.
Blyth Spartans (H) W3-2
Blyth Spartans (A) D1-1
Barnet (H) W7-5
Notts County (A) L1-0
Oldham Athletic (A) W1-2
Torquay United (H) W6-0
Wrexham have begun the campaign in impressive form losing just two games all season, and their recent form shows there are little signs of them slowing down. A 6-0 thumping of Torquay United preceded a narrow victory at Oldham Athletic thanks to late strikes from Ben Tozer and Paul Mullin, but an eight-game unbeaten run would come to an end at the hands of title rivals Notts County. The Red Dragons bounced back with a remarkable 7-5 victory over Barnet that equalled the club’s record for most goals in a match, and following that 12-goal bonanza Phil Parkinson’s men turned their attention to FA Cup action. National League North side Blyth Spartans forced a replay with a late equaliser in Northumberland, with the subsequent fixture at the Racecourse Ground seeing first half goals from Ollie Palmer, Mullin and Jordan Davies finally secure their passage into the First Round.
IN THE DUGOUT: PHIL PARKINSON
After making a name for himself as a player for Bury and Reading, Phil Parkinson switched his attention to management in 2003 when he took over at Colchester United, winning promotion to the Championship in his final season. He briefly joined Hull City before moving to Charlton Athletic initially in assistant and caretaker roles, but departed after three years. Further spells at Bradford City, Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland followed, with his time at the former bringing perhaps his most notable achievement with the FA Cup upset against Chelsea. Parkinson opted to drop down a division for Wrexham in July 2021 and guided the club to the National League play-off final in his first season along with the FA Trophy final, being defeated by Grimsby Town and Bromley respectively.
ONE TO WATCH: PAUL MULLIN
After spending time in the academies of both Everton and Liverpool, Paul Mullin later moved to Huddersfield Town where he progressed through the ranks but was released without making a senior appearance, following a loan spell at Vauxhall Motors. He would join Morecambe and enjoyed further spells with Swindon Town and Tranmere Rovers, however it was with Cambridge United where he began to establish himself with 36 goals in 56 appearances, helping fire the club to promotion to League One. Mullin made a shock move to Wrexham in July 2021 and enjoyed an incredibly successful debut season in North Wales, top scoring with 28 goals in all competitions which resulted in him winning the club’s Player of the Season and Goal of the Season awards as well as the National League’s Golden Boot and Player of the Season awards. He has continued his form into the current campaign and is the division’s second highest scorer with 11 goals from 13 games.
LAST TIME WE MET
Boreham Wood 1-1 Wrexham
Monday 2nd May 2022
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League
Promotion hopefuls Wrexham were stunned by Boreham Wood as Tyrone Marsh’s late penalty cancelled out Paul Mullin’s opener to rob the Red Dragons of all three points.
The hosts made it tough for their opponents during the opening stages with a handful of half chances early on, and could have taken the lead when Will Evans met Frankie Raymond’s free kick, with follow-ups from Dennon Lewis and Jamal Fyfield eventually being cleared. The latter would soon turn villain when his lunge on Jordan Davies resulted in the former Dragon seeing red, allowing the game to turn on its head. This injected life into the visitors, who went close to taking the lead with chances for Mullin, Ollie Palmer and Callum McFadzean but they were unable to find a way past Nathan Ashmore.
Wrexham continued to dominate proceedings with Luke Young having two venomous attempts from range before Ashmore denied Bryce Hosannah. They would eventually take a deserved lead when Mullin produced a chance out of nothing to send a thunderous volley past Ashmore, and continued with their momentum with Palmer and Davies going close as well, before Mullin almost doubled his tally with an audacious backheel that trickled past the post. Further chances for Young and Mullin would see the Red Dragons go even closer to extending their lead, but the hosts began to grow into the game during the closing stages and were rewarded for their patience. After chances for Jacob Mendy Mendy and Adrian Clifton went amiss, Kane Smith was taken out in the box with minutes to go, with Marsh stepping up to make no mistake from the spot and steal an invaluable draw.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? JACOB MENDY MENDY
Although injury will prevent him from appearing on his return to the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Wood fans won’t be forgetting Jacob Mendy Mendy’s efforts during the 2021/22 campaign in a hurry. Former Atletico Madrid youth player Mendy joined the club for a record transfer fee after the Wood activated his buyout clause, with the Gambian-born Spaniard having impressed whilst at Wealdstone and he became a key figure under Luke Garrard. Featuring 49 times in all competitions on the left flank, Mendy was an ever-present for the Wood throughout the 2021/22 season and helped the club produce a title-challenge during the first half of the campaign. Although they would end up missing out on the play-offs all together, a historic FA Cup run ensured the campaign was still a success with the 25-year old appearing in all but one stage as the club reached the Fifth Round, and he would play 90 minutes at both the Vitality Stadium and Goodison Park. Offering plenty of pace and power out wide, Mendy was regularly touted by his manager as the best player in his position in the division, with Wrexham taking this into account when they announced his arrival in North Wales last summer, signing a three-year deal.
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