Altrincham vs Wrexham - Red Dragons look to continue title charge after FA Cup heroics

Wrexham take on Altrincham hoping to keep the pressure on Notts County at the top of the National League.

By Callum Rice-Coates Published: 2 February 2023 - 10.59am
Paul Mullin

National League title favourites Wrexham take a break from their FA Cup exploits and return to league action on Saturday as they travel to Altrincham, live on BT Sport 1.

Phil Parkinson’s side dropped to second in midweek after Notts County won at Solihull Moors, but the Red Dragons have the benefit of games in hand and remain on course to make a long-awaited return to the EFL.

Can they continue their march towards the title this weekend? Or will Altrincham pull off a shock result at Moss Lane?

Will FA Cup drama distract from Wrexham’s title bid?

Parkinson has repeatedly made clear this season that the priority is promotion from the National League, but recent events in the FA Cup will have captured the imagination of even the most cynical fans.

Wrexham were exceptional in their 3-3 draw with Sheffield United in the fourth round of the competition on Sunday, denied only by an injury-time equaliser against a side heading for promotion to the Premier League.

At a raucous Racecourse ground, they came from a goal down inside two minutes to lead twice in the game before John Egan struck late from a corner to take the tie to a replay.

That will be played at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night and some of Wrexham’s players might have half an eye on that fixture, particularly with a home game against Tottenham in the fifth round on the line.

The effort required against Sheffield United will have taken something out of the team, too, although Parkinson boasts a squad with real strength in depth.

Ryan Reynolds

Can Wrexham deal with defensive injuries?

Both Jordan Tunnicliffe and Aaron Hayden were forced off early on against Sheffield United and the two centre-backs are set for extended spells on the sidelines.

Wrexham moved quickly to sign defender Eoghan O'Connell from Charlton for an undisclosed fee, but it remains to be seen if he will come straight into the team against Altrincham.

On Sunday, midfielder Tom O’Connor dropped back into the back three and youngster Max Cleworth was brought on from the bench, so options in that position may be slightly limited for the time being.

After a run of six straight league wins, it has seemed like an injury crisis would be the only thing to halt Wrexham’s momentum.

But the addition of O’Connell should ease worries of a repeat of last season, when injury to Hayden late in the campaign derailed the Welsh side’s promotion bid.

Are Altrincham loanees ready to make an impact?

It’s been a difficult few weeks for Altrincham. After an excellent run of form, the Robins have lost key players in Ryan Colclough and Toby Mullarkey, while several loan players, including the impressive Chris Conn-Clarke, have returned to their parent clubs.

This is likely to mean the team will be in transition for a few games at least as new loanees are bedded in.

Manchester United trio Joe Hugill, Sonny Aljofree and Maxi Oyedele were brought in this week until the rest of the season. Coventry’s Danny Cashman and Fleetwood’s Junior Quitirna have also been signed on loan.

It remains to be seen how these new players will settle in at Moss Lane, but a push for the playoffs now seems unlikely for Altrincham.

A positive result against Wrexham to arrest a run of two straight defeats - against Chesterfield and Boreham Wood - could put them back on track.