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Fanscene by Peter Davies

There was something slightly surreal about Wrexham's friendly fixture at Witton Albion.

There was something slightly surreal about Wrexham's friendly fixture at Witton Albion. The last Tuesday in July it may have been, but the sky was a miserable grey colour and, after an afternoon of torrential rain, the pitch resembled a boggy marsh. The fact that the Albion keeper was called Fish seemed highly apt.

Add to this an extremely unscenic industrial setting, a tannoy man who was obviously into retro '80s music (Abba and Bananarama got top billing), and an "official programme" which took the form of a handwritten A4 teamsheet, and you get the picture.

That said, Witton looked like a well-run outfit. The souvenir shop doubled as an "exhibition centre", showing off the club's rich history and impressive non-league pedigree, and the social club did a fine line in sausage sandwiches.

Wrexham chairmen past and present were at the game. Mark Guterman turned up in a summer shirt - seemingly unaware of the weather conditions in mid-Cheshire - and Pryce Griffiths was looking more than perky in his new role as life president.

On the field, things were just as interesting. Manager Smith decided to experiment once more with a back five - three centre-halves and two wing-backs - and again it looked like a system worth persevering with, if only because it offers cover and protection to the distinctly unspeedy Carey.

The midfield formation was also intriguing: young gun Thomas working in tandem with the more experienced Whitley and Russell.

The ex-Manchester City man won the 2001-2 player of the year award on account of his performances at right-back, but in a way it would suit everyone if he could display his undoubted talents in a more central role.

This is obviously what Smith had in mind when he played Whitley as a midfielder at Wincham Park, but given the dearth of full backs in the Reds' squad, I'm coming round to the view that JW should continue doing what he does best - defending on the right flank.

Rooster also played his part in the centre of the park. No-one is suggesting that the assistant manager should turn out on a regular basis during the coming season, but I would not be averse to him playing a bit more than he did last time around. Smith only has a small squad at his disposal and I really feel he's got to exploit his resources to the full.

Clearly, Russell is not getting any younger, but he's still got a good footballing brain, and against unsophisticated third division defences, I feel he should be brought on as sub whenever the pattern of a game needs changing.

Finally, it should be noted that hit man Trundle scored with a delightful curler from the edge of the box - a strike that was wonderfully reminiscent of the spectacular goals he used to score almost weekly when he first arrived at the Racecourse. More of the same would do very nicely once the season proper starts.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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