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A look at the opposition: Wrexham

8 September 2023

Club News

A look at the opposition: Wrexham

8 September 2023

It is not unreasonable to expect a few goals in the game as Rovers visit newly-promoted Wrexham this weekend.

Phil Parkinson’s side are not only Sky Bet League Two’s joint top scorers with 15 goals from six games – they also boast the division’s leakiest defence with 14 conceded. 

That balance has brought a mixed start to life back in the EFL for the high-profile club, with half their games so far ending level. As they prepare to welcome Rovers, Wrexham currently sit 13th in the table and will be looking to start to convert draws into wins as they seek to live up to their billing as promotion favourites. 

The north Wales outfit have brought plenty of attention on English football’s fourth tier this season, largely due to the ownership of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and the spotlight that has brought. 

LAST TIME OUT 

Tranmere Rovers 0 Wrexham 1 

Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, September 2, 2023 

Line-up: Howard, Boyle, Tozer, Hayden (O’Connell 73), McClean, Lee (Evans 89), Young, O’Connor, Barnett (Forde 86), Palmer, Dalby. Subs not used: Mendy, Cannon, Bickerstaff, McNicholas. 

THE MANAGER  

With over 500 senior appearances to his name for Bury and Reading, Parkinson arrived in Wrexham in the summer of 2021 and has played a huge part in the club’s return to the EFL. 

The Lancastrian first turned his hand to management in 2003 with Colchester United and guided the Essex side to automatic promotion to the Championship in 2006. 

After a short spell at Hull City, he took charge at Bradford City and masterminded the incredible achievement of the League Two club reaching the EFL Cup final in 2013. The Bantams also secured promotion via the play-offs that season. 

Parkinson took Bolton Wanderers to promotion to the Championship in 2017 before his record-breaking tenure with today’s hosts. 

THE KEY MEN 

Keeper: Mark Howard 

With former-Premier League shot-stopper Ben Foster retiring earlier this season, Mark Howard has been a constant fixture for the Red Dragons. The 36-year-old graduated from Arsenal’s youth system but never featured for the Gunners, eventually leaving the fold in 2006. He then featured for St Mirren and notably Sheffield United before recently crafting his trade in League Two with Scunthorpe United and Carlisle United. He arrived in Wrexham in 2022 and is now looking to hold down his place between the sticks once again. 

Defender: Ben Tozer 

At the age of 33, Tozer will be looking to surpass the century mark for appearances with Wrexham this term in what will be his third season with the Red Dragons. A Plymouth academy graduate, the centre half went on to feature for Newcastle United before his career starting move came at Northampton Town. The 6ft 3in centre half turned out 173 times for the Cobblers before leaving for Yeovil Town. After that came a move to Newport County before joining Cheltenham Town in 2018. He won League Two with the Robins in 2021 but that summer he was attracted to a move with Wrexham and he’s stayed with the club ever since. 

In midfield: Elliott Lee 

Having come through the ranks at West Ham, and numerous loan spells away from the Hammers, Lee left the capital in 2016 to join Barnsley. He only managed six appearances for the Tykes before returning south with Luton Town a year later. The midfielder spent five years with the Hatters and was part of the side that won back-to-back promotions form League Two to the Championship before joining Wrexham on a permanent transfer in 2022. Lee won promotion with Wrexham last term and earnt a place in the National League Team of the Year to see the club back in the fourth tier after 15 years away. 

Up top: Ollie Palmer 

Wrexham’s number nine started his footballing career on the non-league circuit with Woking before moving on to Havant & Waterlooville in 2011. His EFL break came with Mansfield Town in 2015 before he made a move to the capital with Leyton Orient in 2017. Following the O’s relegation in 2017, he continued to move around the Football League with Lincoln City, Crawley Town and AFC Wimbledon – amassing 154 total appearances in the process and winning the EFL Trophy with the Imps. He joined Wrexham in 2022 and in his first season finished as an FA Trophy runner up before featuring in the National League champions side the season after. The striker has one goal and one assist to his name so far this season in his first six appearances back in the EFL. 

HEAD-TO-HEAD 

Rovers first met Wrexham in the 1923/24 Division Three North campaign and ran out 1-0 winners at Belle Vue before playing out a 2-2 draw a week later in North Wales. Since those first meetings, the two sides have met 69 times in total with Rovers winning on 26 occasions and Wrexham enjoying the spoils on 18. The sides have also played out 25 draws.  

They last time the sides went head-to-head was in August 2005 when substitute Adam Hughes’ effort was enough to see Rovers’ advance to the second round of the EFL Cup. 

TURNED OUT FOR BOTH 

Both clubs enjoyed the services of Brian Flynn – both as a player and a manager. The Port Talbot-born midfielder enjoyed spells with Burnley and Leeds United between 1972 and 1984 before returning to his homeland with Cardiff City. In 1985 he arrived in South Yorkshire for his first stint but only featured 27 times before moving to Bury a year later. He returned to Rovers in 87’ and scored a sole goal in 24 appearances before again leaving a year later. That time he joined Wrexham and enjoyed five years with the club – playing 100 times and scoring five goals. 

In 1989, Flynn managed Wrexham for the first time before leaving in 2001 and taking up a coaching role with the Wales national side in 2004. Following Dean Saunders’ mid-season departure at Rovers, he took to the helm at the Eco-Power Stadium and saw the side to the Championship after that final day drama at Brentford in 2013. After Rovers’ promotion that year, Flynn stood down from management but had a spell as assistant and then caretaker manager with Wrexham again in 2019. 

Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan

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