Notts County travelled to the Racecourse Ground 3 men heavier from their previous games after the arrivals of David Pipe, Andy Parkinson and Avun Jephcott to the Notts squad – each of which were installed to the fifteen man squad in the right-back, centre forward and substitutes bench respectively.
Just prior to kick-off the new-look Notts line-up, playing of course for the first time together as a unit, embarked on what now looks to be a now customary Tellytubby-style pre-match huddle.
Notts went about their business in a similar manor to that of the first 15 minutes of the
County’s Mark Stallard claiming the first chance which he struck over with team-mate Ian Baraclough who also blasted over.
Wrexham however had chances of their own to capitalise as a header from Hector Sam sailed wide before
However, the opening 25 minutes of the game could and should have finished with Wrexham down to ten men as the ever present issue of referee inconsistency prevented the already booked and ever offending Brian Carey from seeing red.
Then in the 31st minute, the centrality of the new-faces of County were highlighted when Andy Parkinson marked his debut with the game’s opening goal following an incisive pass to Tony Hackworth by the Notts County ‘architect’ [hint of sarcasm] Darren Caskey.
Chris Llewellyn, a target of former Notts manager Billy Dearden during the summer, then had a shot worthy of drawing the Dragons level – but Steve Mildenhall saved superbly to keep the score as was.
Andy Parkinson, one player who truly ran the show for the Magpies in his opening game for the club, then went into the referee’s book for a foul on Carlos Edwards.
Another new Notts boy, namely David Pipe, then went down injured for the second time in the contest as once more; Roger Cleary’s assistance was needed who then, as the teams left the field for the interval, helped escort Pipe towards the tunnel.
HALF TIME: Wrexham 0-1
County’s David Pipe appeared to have recovered from the two knocks picked up in the first off as he lived to fight another day – or 45 minutes at least.
On the opposing bench however, things were very different as Dennis Smith made a triple substitution for the Red Dragons as Chris Armstrong, Jim Whitely and Stephen Roberts looked to turn the game around for a floundering Wrexham side – a decision which Smith came to regret.
Andy Parkinson was again at the centre of County’s attacking play as he struck a shot towards goal, one which was saved by the experienced figure of Andy Dibble.
Paul Bolland and Darren Caskey were both victims of an over physical Wrexham performance as both went down under rash challenges from the Welsh outfit.
However it was Wrexham’s leading ‘scorer Hector Sam who received the more telling injury from those picked up as he left the field of play on a stretcher after colliding with an on-rushing Steve Mildenhall in a one-on-one situation.
Sam’s injury leaving Wrexham down to ten men after manager Dennis Smith had used all three substitutions.
The game then became more and more scrappy as opportunities for both sides became minimal.
Gary Mills, breaking away from the Billy Dearden 93rd minute substitutions for one-reason-or-another, then introduced Paul Riley to the action for the possibly injured David Pipe as Riley went to the left side of midfield, Parkinson to the right of midfield and Bolland to the vacant right back slot.
Parkinson, who looks real novelty, then showed his talents in the wide-right position as he put in a promising performance in an unoccupied position after the on-going injury of Simon Baldry.
Darren Caskey then managed to contort another short corner routine which
Notts then managed to weather the storm as Wrexham’s unyielding attacks failed to get the better of a Notts defence that had thus far stood strong.
However the Welsh side could easily have equalised on two occasions as first, Wrexham’s Andy Dibble headed over from six yards with the Notts rearguard stretched to its limits before County’s Nick Fenton almost headed past his own ‘keeper within minutes of each other.
The fourth official then held the board high indicating that a minimum of five minutes added time.
Ian Baraclough then went down in discomfort with cramp after fouling Darren Ferguson. ‘Bara’ was then replaced soon after by striker Shaun Harrad as a possible signal of County’s unwillingness to simply hang on.
But hang on they did as Gary Mills’ side emerged victorious in what has thus far been the most inclusive County performance – and long may it continue.
FULL TIME: Wrexham 0-1