Login Register

All stoked up

SECOND division promotion candidates Stoke City, who visit the Racecourse tomorrow, hold no fears for Wrexham manager Denis Smith, who became a legend during 18 years with the Potteries club.

SECOND division promotion candidates Stoke City, who visit the Racecourse tomorrow, hold no fears for Wrexham manager Denis Smith, who became a legend during 18 years with the Potteries club.

Smith, a rugged central defender during Stoke's time in the top flight in the late 1960s and early 1970s, enjoys the cult status afforded to the likes of Sir Stanley Matthews and George Eastham, but that bond will be forgotten for 90 minutes tomorrow.

Following Tuesday's 2-0 victory at Cambridge United, the Dragons' boss said: "I'm really looking forward to Saturday now. My record as a manager against Stoke is excellent, except for the last occasion when we got turned over. But generally, with Sunderland, West Brom and Oxford, I've usually won."

Wrexham will be hoping that central defender Keith Hill is fit to play, after he was forced to leave the field at half-time at the Abbey Stadium. Club physiotherapist Mel Pejic said: "Keith complained earlier in the day of pains in his lower back. It looks as if it was something that had developed overnight and then the long coach journey to Cambridge hardly helped.

"We kept an eye on him during the game but it was obvious as it went on he was experiencing more and more pain. That's why we took him off at the break and I hope that a few days rest will do him some good. If he continues to have problems then we'll have him checked out, but I don't think at the moment it's too bad."

Winger Michael Blackwood is also having treatment for an injury picked up during Sunday's FA Cup defeat at Hereford United. He said: "I got a kick to the underside of my right foot and I've been having difficulty walking. But once the swelling goes down it should be easier and, hopefully, I'll be part of things against Stoke."

Robin Gibson, one of Wrexham's most effective players in

the two games this week, said he hoped Tuesday's win, which ended a run of six defeats, marked a turning point in the club's fortunes.

"It was a six-pointer and it got us off the bottom," he said. "It was a massive game, especially after Sunday when we let the fans down. But the loyal ones turned up at Cambridge on Tuesday and we gave them a show.

"It was only a matter of time before we were going to score and the gaffer had said they were not the best team in the league and that we should be above them in the table.

"We played the better football and we've been playing pretty well recently without getting the goals. But on Tuesday we put away our chances, unlike Sunday, and we have got another massive game tomorrow.

"Stoke are up near the top and we are fighting for our lives at the bottom. We need to keep playing as we have in the last couple of matches and put away the chances when they come."

Admitting he was happy with his form, Gibson also paid tribute to his team-mates. " I'm doing okay at the moment and when the lads give me the ball I just try and do the business," he added.

"On Sunday I skinned the lad on a couple of occasions and got in a few crosses but there was no end result. Hector Sam didn't have the best of games but, to be fair, he kept going, although things weren't coming off for him.

"But Lee Trundle showed what a class player he is on Tuesday and all the lads in the back four were brilliant as well. When Denis Lawrence came in, he was strong as well.

"Getting the win gives us a platform to keep going and hopefully now we'll get on a little bit of a run and climb out of the bottom five."

Tomorrow's match is an allticket affair with no sales on the day. The Racecourse ticket office is open until 7pm this evening.

Former Wrexham defender, Phil Hardy, 28, who joined Port Vale in the summer, has been put on the transfer list.

Manager Brian Horton said: "Phil has found the wing-back role difficult and I have other options. He doesn't want to be playing reserve team football at this stage of his career so we will circulate his name and see what happens."


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
Contact Us
Full contact details