Wrexham welcomed Southport to Stansty Park for the first meeting between the two sides.
Dragons’ player-manager Matthew Thomas had a strong squad at his disposal, with the player manager starting himself at left back, Mezza in for the injured Josh Tinney and Dan Sear replacing Steven Elliot, who is away on international duty.
However, the biggest headache for the Wrexham boss came from goalkeeper Nathan Williams who entered the pitch wearing the same colour shirt as the opposition! With no spare goalkeeper shirt, it meant substitute Joey Jones donating his white training shirt to the big stopper.
Wrexham kicked off and both teams started brightly.Southport starting with a traditional 4-4-2. Wrexham changing to a more defensive 4-1-4-1. But as soon as the game settled down, Wrexham showed their worth by creating many a chance to go ahead. It was their dominance in midfield, especially down the flanks as the Wrexham wingers skipped past the Southport full backs to pull balls back for one of the on-rushing midfielders to take a shot on goal.
Wrexham broke the deadlock during the mid point of the first half, after a crunching tackle on the edge of the box gave loanee star Sean Merryweather to take the free-kick. Merryweather struck the ball with some power, and with the aid of a slight deflection saw the ball hit the bottom corner of the net. Wrexham took a deserved lead.
Southport then changed things about, by dropping one of their strikers into midfield to counter the dominance held by Dan Sear. The Southport man had no joy upfront battling against Wrexham’s centre back pairing of Jones and Richards, who have now become player-manager Matthew Thomas’ first choice centre backs.
Wrexham had managed to put the ball in the net for a second time, only for the referee to deem Liam Partyn had pushed his marker whilst the ball was in mid-air from a Steven Garnett cross. Wrexham though, finished the half the strongest going into the dressing rooms at 1-0.
The Wrexham player-manager decided against making any half time substitutions. He realised that fresh pairs of legs would be needed later on in the match, and he wasn’t wrong. For the first 10 minutes of the second half, Southport threatened the Wrexham goal on a couple of occasions, as they sought an equaliser.
However, it was Wrexham who got the vital next goal, a free-kick on the left wing was flighted in once again by Garnett, who again found the head of Liam Partyn. The player dubbed ‘Hayley Cropper’ to his friends because of his uncanny resemblance to the Corrie transgender, nodded the ball into the far corner. The crowd went wild, and the Dragons players rushed over to congratulate the goalscorer.
It was at that point Wrexham made changes, expecting a Southport onslaught. The young David Jenkins made way for Joey Jones, Aaron Jones came off for Ben Valentine, and Craig Davies came on for Matthew Thomas.
Southport then began to target Wrexham right-back Jack Scott, doubling up on the ex Long Pull Youth Academy star who had uncharacteristically lost his temper during the first half. Jack however, managed to keep the opposition at bay, and this had began to irritate the Southport wingers. This lead to unsavoury scenes, as a Southport player hacked Jack to the ground, and gave him a kick in the face for his troubles. This sparked the already flamed tempers of the Southport team, who went on to pick up several bookings from the referee for discent.
Southport had managed to hit the Wrexham woodwork, but a sterling performance from substitute Craig Davies, and sheer hard work from the 10 other players saw Wrexham maintain their clean sheet record, now stretching over 2 games.
The final whistle blew, and Wrexham had done it. They’d won against possibly their toughest opposition to date.
Goals – Sean Merryweather ’24, Liam Partyn ’62
Man of the Match – Liam Partyn