WREXHAM are champing at the bit to launch a long-delayed New Year assault on two fronts as they head into tonight’s FA Trophy second-round clash at Basingstoke Town.
The Dragons, who have not played since the 1-1 draw with Woking on December 28, have targeted a place in the last 16 of the tournament before renewing their Blue Square Premier ambitions at Torquay United on Friday evening.
And manager Dean Saunders has managed to persuade club owner Geoff Moss to fund a three-night stay in the south of England to minimise the amount of travelling involved.
“It’s a cheap hotel,” quipped the Racecourse boss. “I realise I’m not at Newcastle United any more and we might have to organise a golf day or sell a couple of shirts on e-bay to help with the expense involved.”
Joking apart, Saunders believes the trip will pay dividends. “It cuts down the need for unnecessary travel, it gets the lads together for a change of scene and routine and I want everyone to be right going into the game at Torquay,” he added.
“It will be different and it will freshen everything up. We have had to train on the artificial pitch for the past nine days, so it was good to get back on the grass today. The players had a day off yesterday to clear up any niggles and everyone is raring to go.”
With a Trophy trip to either Barrow or Workington the prize for the winners of tonight’s Camrose match, Saunders is anticipating nothing less than a supremely professional performance from his players against opponents who are struggling near the bottom of the Blue Square South league table.
“We have to be on top form mentally, we have to defend properly and be professional,” he said.
“We have to make sure we get through the tie without any red cards or injuries and I’m hopeful we’ll put in a proper performance. The players are champing at the bit and, although we have missed chances in recent games, we have been playing well.
“I’m sure it won’t be long before another team find themselves on the end of a hiding from us, but we have to avoid an upset tomorrow.
“Upsets happen when lower league teams have six or seven of their players raising their game for a one-off, so we have to be wary of that. Our first task is to stop the opposition playing and once we have done that we then have the talented players who can win the match for us.”
Dragons skipper Ashley Westwood said Wrexham were keen to rediscover the winning touch after being held to a draw in each of their two most recent outings.
“It’s a sign of the improvement that we are extremely disappointed when we don’t win a game,” said the central defender.
“It’s then a case of wanting the next one to come along as quickly as possible, so the past couple of weeks have proved a very frustrating time for everyone. We’ve been preparing for games only to have them called off at the last minute, and the freezing weather has also caused us problems in training.
“But at least we have been able to train and we are really looking forward to tomorrow’s game. If we win, we’ll be in the last 16 and then it’s all to play for. Just as important, though, is that a good result at Basingstoke would set us up nicely for the game at Torquay on Friday.
“The league is our top priority and we need to be looking for three points on Friday, because a result there would send a message out to all the other teams that Wrexham are coming and they need to be looking over their shoulders at us.”