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Denis Smith's men continue to struggle. 2002 began in just the same way

Denis Smith's men continue to struggle. 2002 began in just the same way as 2001 ended - in defeat. All told, they have won six league games and lost 17 - but behind the basic facts and figures lie other interesting trends.

GOALSCORERS: Transfer-listed Craig Faulconbridge is top of the chart with an unexceptional record (eight strikes in 26) but there are a couple of curios elsewhere. Fellow striker Andy Morrell has made eight league starts but failed to net in any (his two goals this season came in the LDV).

On the other hand, Trinidadian Carlos Edwards has played in seven second division games - and appeared on the scoresheet three times. He is obviously out of favour on account of workrate rather than strike record (currently 0.43 goals per start).

DISCIPLINE: It is not insignificant that Wrexham's troubled season has been punctuated by bursts of red and yellow.

In all competitions there have been seven sendings-off (one every 4.4 games) and a mammoth 55 bookings (1.77 per match). And that adds up to a staggering 69 disciplinary points for the squad as a whole.

Fiery Darren Ferguson is top of the "bad boys" table (seven yellows and one red), but hard men Martyn Chalk and Lee Trundle are not far behind (eight disciplinary points apiece). In addition, skipper Brian Carey is in trouble with the ref every other game, and fellow centre-half Dennis Lawrence boasts a record that is not much better. But congratulations to frontman Faulconbridge: in 2001-2 he has picked up only one booking in 26 outings.

GOOD TEAMS AND BAD TEAMS: There is an astonishing disparity between  results against clubs in the top and bottom halves of the table.

The Reds have lost 12 out of 15 fixtures with promotion-chasing sides. By contrast, five out of their six victories have come against struggling outfits. The goal-difference stats put the situation in even clearer focus: overall, it's -26 against top-half teams, but only -3 against bottom-half sides.

DRAWS: It is not the lack of Wrexham victories that worries me most, but the team's inability to grind out useful draws.

They've taken part in only four stalemates since August (Oldham, Colchester and Blackpool at home; Notts County away). At the same time, they have lost nine games in all competitions by the odd goal.

Come May, this kind of record could well be the difference between second and third division status.

GOAL TIME DISTRIBUTION: It is a fact that, across 31 league and cup fixtures, Wrexham have scored only five goals in the first half-hour period.

Needless to say, opposition teams have a very different record: they have rattled up a total of 19 goals in the first 30-minute period of games - and 26 in the last 30 minutes! The Red Dragons themselves perform slightly more impressively between the 30th and 90th minutes - but, more often than not they are already chasing the game.

There is obviously a motivational problem here. And it's the job of Messrs Smith, Russell and Jones to solve it before relegation becomes inevitable.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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