Notts County performance overview:
In perfect honesty, the Magpies should be feeling massively unfortunate to not come away as winners this evening. Just moments before the winner enters the back of the net, Ed Francis, who was one of many impressive performers in a black and white shirt this evening struck the under-side of the crossbar. Once this chance went astray, you got the sense the game was heading to extra-time, increasing emphasise on my point that Notts County should feel heavily unlucky.
The centre-half played the game of his season so far this evening. For me, majorly unlucky to not be given the Man Of The Match award as he was a rock at the back. Wrexham threw on their marquee signings late in the second half and I felt Rawlinson dealt with them both magnificently given not many in this league can live with their quality. Finally, he gave his side the advantage through a wonderful, glanced header. At first, I for one was confused as to why he took the role of the centre forward. However, the header possessed quality in which you would have easily mistaken Connell for a forward. It was absolutely superb.
Another player that was immense for Ian Burchnall's side this evening. Everything about his game was inch-perfect, both defensively and going forward. Dion for me is always a consistent performer, but tonight he was incredible. Always strong in his challenges, he did not back out of a challenge but saying that, he never does. For a player who is at a disadvantage due to his lack of height, he was fantastic in the air this evening too. Many supporters expressed their delight over the full-back's performance on twitter during the half-time interval, and I can see why. Incredible tonight.
Conclusion on the Magpies:
Overall, despite a very good performance, it is now another run of three games without victory for Notts County. The only positive really to take from tonight is that the club isn now distraction free and therefore can focus entirely on the top three, which I believe they will achieve if they can end this horrid current run. A lot of supporters have doubted Ian Burchnall but I believe he is the man to take the club forward, the football his side play at times is unbelievable for the fifth tier of English Football. There is no time to dwell on tonight's defeat, as the Magpies travel to Edgeley Park this Tuesday evening to face Stockport County in another huge game as far as the title race/ play-off race is concerned.
Wrexham AFC performance overview:
Although their opponents were the more dominant side, the Red Dragons still managed to show their quality, especially when it mattered most. They had many impressive individual performers, who I will get into shortly but I believe the squad Phil Parkinson has currently will push for a play-off space in the English Football League Two without a doubt. The away following they brought with them this evening was absolutely incredible too. Just over six-hundred, but they made sure they were known. Really helped their side get over the line and they will undoubtedly make it through to the final in my opinion.
I noticed when scanning over the comments under their line-up announcement this evening that a few eyebrows were raised at Dibble starting, but for me, a clear Man Of The Match for the visitors. The shot-stopper made some incredible saves to keep his side in it when they were trailing and when they were level. As for when they were level, the goalkeeper produced a fine save to deny Cal Roberts and just over a minute beyond the save, his side went ahead. If you ever needed to grasp an understanding of Wrexham's unsung hero tonight, look no further. The 27-year-old was absolutely fantastic.
Likewise with Dibble, the forward was also questioned but I thought he was brilliant this evening. When his side were under pressure in the first half, he was always offering as an outlet and put in the hard yards when giving chase to loose balls or forcing the Magpies' backline to clear their lines. Also, his strike for the goal was beautiful. It fell to him on the edge of the penalty area and he riffled a half-volley clean into the roof of the net, leaving Sam Slocombe with no chance. At the time, the goal was just the equaliser but following on from the game, the goal gained significance as his side went on to win the tie late on. A really solid individual performance, a nice option for Parkinson to have entering the later stages of the season.
Conclusion on the Red Dragons:
The automatic promotion chasing outfit displayed today the characteristics that you need to win the league title. I personally believe Wrexham AFC will be Stockport County's most threatening opponent to take them off the top of the Vanarama National League table. Phil Parkinson's side were resilient and really hurt the Magpies late on at a time where all the wind was firmly removed from all sails. The club travel back to Wales now awaiting to discover their Buildbase FA Trophy Semi-Final opponents but now will have their full attention on their league encounter with Bromley, as they will look to extend their impressive run of unbeaten form to eight in order to keep the chase on the Hatters.
An incredible advertisement for the quality of the Vanarama National League transpired this evening, both sides demonstrating the close in gap between Non-League and the lower leagues in the Football League. A huge good luck to Wrexham AFC in the next round of the competition.