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STAGS BEATEN AT WREXHAM
2nd April 2024 10:37


English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Wrexham 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Mullin 32, pen 67
Attendance: 12,494 (1,147 from Mansfield)

Date: 29 March 2024

Martin Shaw at the Racecourse Ground (SToK Cae Ras)

Mansfield Town were beaten 2-0 by Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground on Good Friday. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Mansfield. Three players went off injured by half time, one thanks to a reckless challenge that should have seen red for Wrexham’s James McClean after just 2 minutes in the game, with Elliott Hewitt, returning from 11 months out through injury, having to be substituted. A mistake from Lewis Brunt gifted Wrexham the lead after half an hour, a chance taken by Paul Mullin, after Wrexham had created next to nothing up that point. Wrexham then still created nothing at all until the referee gave them a penalty for a foul a yard outside the box, with Mullin converting the spot kick. It was a very tight game. Mansfield restricted Wrexham to just 7 shots in the entire game, while Mansfield had just 10. But ultimately the mistake by Brunt, and the refereeing errors were enough to see Wrexham to an important victory.

Mansfield made three changes from the side that drew with Colchester. Hewitt came in for Cargill. It was Hewitt's first appearance for 11 months after his injury. Cargill was out with a knee injury, not clear how long he will be out, but he definitely won't be back for Monday.
Clarke came in for Quinn. Quinn had had a heavy cold, and was an unused sub, but should be ok for Monday.
Lewis came in for Boateng.
Williams remained out with his Achilles. Not clear how long he will be out, but again won't be back for Monday.
Maris returned to the 18. He had posted in Instagram on Wednesday that he had lost his mum. Deepest condolences to George.
Hewitt was at right back, Bowery at left back. Clarke on the right, Lewis on the left, in front of Reed. And Keillor-Dunn behind Swan and Akins.

Wrexham made one change from their win at Grimsby, James McClean returning from suspension at left wing back. Ollie Palmer was up front.

It was third vs first in a big game live on Sky Sports. It was a full house. Mansfield were only given 1,100 tickets and could have sold more than twice that.

The pitch was in great condition and played well despite some heavy rain during the game.

There was controversy after just two minutes. McClean, just back from suspension, was very late with a reckless challenge on Hewitt on the touchline. I had a great view from the press box, and in my opinion, it should have been a straight red, but the referee gave only a yellow. It was reckless, with excessive force. In the Premier League with VAR, that would have been a red card.

Hewitt briefly returned to play on after getting attention, but then had to be substituted. He needed stitches in his mouth, a split lip. Clough said afterwards: “It was going to take 10 minutes to get stitches in and we couldn't afford to play that long with 10 men.” Clough did add that he should be ok to play on Monday. What a return for Hewitt after 11 months out with injury.
McLaughlin replaced Hewitt (8 minutes). Bowery switched to right back.

Before the change, after 5 minutes, a cross from the right and an ambitious overhead kick from Elliott Lee was straight to Pym.

The Stags were knocking the ball around ok, with no threat from Wrexham. After 18 minutes, good defending by Bowery against McClean after Paul Mullin briefly got away from Brunt. Then a free kick from the left, and it was harmlessly knocked wide by McClean.

Having kept Wrexham quiet, the Stags created some chances. After 23 minutes, a great move, Clarke to Keillor-Dunn who got in a shot from 22 yards that looked like it could be heading in, from my angle, but it was blocked. Two minutes later, a corner from the left from Keillor-Dunn, and Flint headed down, but it was cleared.

Then on 27 minutes, a great flick on from Akins, Swan got into the area, but his shot was blocked for a corner. Clough said after the game Swan just went too wide.

At the other end on 30 minutes, McClean miscued a shot straight at Pym after a cross from the right.

Wrexham took the lead after 32 minutes, and it was a mistake from Brunt that led to it. Max Cleworth played a good ball down the right for Andy Cannon who crossed low. It should have been an easy clearance for Brunt but he missed it, it immediately went through Flint’s legs too, allowing Mullin a free shot from 8 yards which he wasn't going to miss, firing past Pym. A shame for Brunt who had been in great form.

A triple chance for the Stags after 36 minutes. Keillor-Dunn's shot from 23 yards was blocked for a corner. Keillor-Dunn took the corner and Flint headed wide. The ball stayed in play, so wide was the header, Keillor-Dunn played back to Lewis and Lewis sent a good shot inches wide of the right post from the edge of the area. Very close.

Good defending by Clarke after 44 minutes.

Clarke was booked for a foul on Lee after 45 minutes. Mullin sent the resulting free kick high over the bar from 31 yards.

A very even first half. The Stags had limited Wrexham to hardly any clear cut chances but were behind due to that Brunt error. Wrexham should have been down to ten men after two minutes which would have had a massive effect on the game.

Half time 1-0

Both Brunt and Swan had picked up injuries in the first half and both had to be substituted at half time. With no more defenders available, Gale came on for Brunt. Nichols came on for Swan.
Swan had got a whack on his cheekbone which was swelling up. Clough said we will have to see how he is for Monday.
Clough said that “Brunt landed awkwardly on his ankle after about 35 minutes. He got through to half-time but no way could he continue.” Clough didn’t say if he will be fit for Monday, unlikely I would have thought.
Bowery moved to centre half, alongside Flint. Akins went to right back, with McLaughlin at left back. Nichols went behind Keillor-Dunn and Gale.
Quite a blow losing three players to injury by half time, two of them defenders, with Cargill and Williams already out.

Still it was Mansfield with the chances in the second half with Wrexham creating nothing for the opening 22 minutes of the half.

After 48 minutes, a good run by Keillor-Dunn, to Gale and he fired in a good left footed shot which keeper Okonkwo pushed wide.

Gale was fouled 31 yards out after 57 minutes. Keillor-Dunn sent the free kick over the bar.

The Stags had a goal disallowed after 61 minutes. McLaughlin played a ball down the left. Keeper Okonkwo came to the edge of his area, initially got his hands the ball. As Keillor-Dunn approached, the ball popped out of Okonkwo’s hands, Keillor-Dunn nicked it away and rolled the ball into the empty net. The referee gave a foul because he thought Okonkwo had control of the ball. The video is inconclusive as to whether the ball popped out of the keeper’s hands before Keillor-Dunn nicked it away. From my position, I thought it did, but we don’t have the angle to show that.

On 62 minutes, a good move down the right, Akins did well to play inside to Clarke, and Clarke sent a left footed shot over the bar from 18 yards.

Controversy that went against Mansfield after 67 minutes as Wrexham made it 2-0, and as it turned out, killed the game. McLaughlin slipped over allowing Bolton to get in behind, running towards the area. Bowery came across and brought Bolton down, a yard outside the area. It was a foul, and should have been a free kick. The referee took his time and then awarded a penalty. A really poor decision.

Mullin stepped up and thundered the penalty into the roof of the net. Pym predicted where the penalty was going but couldn’t stop it.

Boateng replaced Keillor-Dunn, and Maris replaced Clarke, after 68 minutes.

Wrexham then sat deep and protected their precious two goal lead.

Reed was booked for a foul on the edge of the centre circle after 69 minutes. His 11th booking of the season. If he was to be booked in each of the next 4 games, or 4 of the next 5, he would pick up a suspension.

Lewis was booked for a foul on the half way line after 71 minutes.

Ollie Palmer was replaced after 73 minutes.

Nichols was fouled a couple of times, the referee played on.

Wrexham had a rare chance after 78 minutes as Pym came out and Lee lifted the ball over him but just wide with Stephen Fletcher unable to turn in at the far post. A rare misjudgment from Pym.

Wrexham continued to protect what they had with no chances for either side after that.

It ended 2-0. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Three players going off injured by half time, one thanks to a challenge that should have seen red from McClean so early in the game. The mistake from Brunt was critical, gifting Wrexham the lead after they had created next nothing. Wrexham then created nothing at all until the referee gave them a penalty for a foul a yard outside the box. Such a tight game. Mansfield restricted Wrexham to just 7 shots in the entire game, while Mansfield had just 10. But ultimately the mistake by Brunt, and the refereeing errors were enough to see Wrexham to victory.

It was the first time Mansfield had failed to score away from home all season.

The table has closed up with Wrexham, Stockport, MK Dons, Barrow all winning. Mansfield are just 3 points ahead of 4th placed MK Dons who have played a game more.

Six games to go. Mansfield need to win 3 of them, and might need to win 4 of them. MK Dons continue to look like a huge threat in 4th place. Mansfield are at home to Accrington on Monday afternoon and need to bounce back. If you're not going to the One Call Stadium, you can buy a match pass to watch it with us on iFollow Stags.

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FRI 29 MAR 2024, LEAGUE TWO
Wrexham 2-0 Mansfield Town: Paul Mullin brace earns Dragons victory over promotion rivals Mansfield
Mullin (32'minutes, 67'minutes pen)
Assists
Cannon (32'minutes)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/68633672

Wrexham beat promotion rivals Mansfield Town to move within a point of top spot in League Two.

Paul Mullin swept Andy Cannon's cross beyond Christy Pym in the 32nd minute.

Aaron Lewis and James Gale came the closest to equalising for Mansfield - who saw Davis Keillor-Dunn have a goal disallowed for a foul on Arthur Okonkwo.

But Mullin rifled home from the penalty spot on 67 minutes to seal victory after Jordan Bowery fouled Luke Bolton.

Mullin's brace - which took the striker's goal tally to 20 for the season - lifts Phil Parkinson's side level with second-placed Mansfield on 73 points.

Stockport County lead the way on 74 points following a 3-0 triumph at Forest Green Rovers.

Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson:
"It was a hard-earned win, a gritty and determined performance. We restricted a very good Mansfield team to very little.

"All in all, the team work ethic today was outstanding. We had to dig deep in terms of concentraion levels as well as the physicality.

"We didn't get too down when we lost to Tranmere and we're not going to get too high after today. Now it's about preparation for what will be a terrific game at Doncaster on Tuesday."


Match Stats
Home Team Wrexham Away Team Mansfield
Possession Home 39% Away 61%
Shots Home 7 Away 10
Shots on Target Home 4 Away 1
Corners Home 1 Away 6
Fouls Home 11 Away 13

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Good Friday misery for Mansfield Town as they lose promotion showdown at Wrexham
chad.co.uk, Fri 29 Mar 2024

Mansfield Town slipped off the top of League Two after losing 2-0 in a crunch clash away to promotion rivals Wrexham on a rainswept afternoon at the Racecourse Ground today.

The Stags inconsistent recent run of results continued as Paul Mullin bagged a brace to reach 20 goals for the season.

But Mansfield were left fuming over a penalty decision that ended their hopes of a fightback in the second half with TV replays showing the challenge was outside the box.

Stags had defender Baily Cargill ruled out with injury before the game and lost two more defenders by half-time as they had to make several reshuffles with Jordan Bowery playing three different positions over the afternoon.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/good-friday-misery-for-mansfield-town-as-they-lose-promotion-showdown-at-wrexham-4574331

Stockport County leapfrogged Nigel Clough’s side with a convincing victory at Football League basement boys Forest Green Rovers as the Stags remained above Wrexham in second only on goal difference.

The Stags are three points ahead of the chasing pack in the promotion race and will be thankful for three straight home games, starting against Accrington on Easter Monday.

Clough made a trio of changes for the highly-anticipated showdown as Elliott Hewitt returned from a serious ACL injury for his first appearance in almost a year.

Sadly, the defender only lasted a couple of minutes before he went off injured after a horror challenge from James McClean for which the Wrexham man was booked and Stags unable to stem bleeding from Hewitt's mouth.

Christy Pym had to be alert early on to keep out Elliot Lee’s overhead kick on five minutes.

Davis Keillor-Dunn saw his effort well blocked by Max Cleworth before the defender did the same to Will Swan’s strike after Lucas Akins’ flicked the ball into his path.

The home fans roared into life as Mullin broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when he slotted home from Andy Cannon’s cross as Lewis Brunt failed to clear.

Aaron Lewis curled an effort just wide of the mark shortly before the break as the visitors threatened.

Clough made a double switch at half-time as forwards James Gale and Tom Nichols were ushered into the action.

The former almost made an instant impact as he forced Arthur Okonkwo into a good save at the near post.

Keillor-Dunn hit a free-kick over the bar just before the hour mark.

Mansfield felt aggrieved when they had a goal chalked out after Keillor-Dunn took the ball off Okonkwo, the refere deciding the keeper had both hands on the ball.

Then came the big turning point of the game as Mullin netted a 67th minute penalty.

Luke Bolton was challenged outside the box by Jordan Bowery but tumbled on and into the box and, after a hesitation, the referee gave the spot kick to the horror of the visitors.

And Mullin emphatically hammered home his 99th goal for the club straight down the middle from penalty.

Former Scottish international Steven Fletcher, who replaced former Mansfield man Ollie Palmer, missed the target from close range on the slide as he tried to turn in a Lee cross at the far post.

Stags had no answer in the end as they left Wrexham licking their wounds from their live TV defeat and will now need a roll call of fit players for Monday's crucial clash.

WREXHAM: Okonkwo, Bolton (Barnett, 74), Cleworth, O’Connell, Boyle, McClean, Cannon, O’Connor, Lee (Evans 87), Palmer (Fletcher, 74), Mullin (Marriott 87). SUBS NOT USED: Howard, McFadzean.

STAGS: Pym, Hewitt (McLaughlin, 8), Flint, Brunt (Gale, 45), Bowery, Clarke (Maris, 68), Reed, Keillor-Dunn (Boateng, 68), Lewis, Swan (Nichols, 45), Akins. SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Quinn.

REFEREE: Lewis Smith.

ATTENDANCE: 12,494.

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Wrexham win 2-0 in top of the table clash with Mansfield
leaderlive.co.uk, By Richard Williams, Fri 29 Mar 2024

PAUL MULLIN struck either side of the break as Wrexham beat Mansfield Town 2-0 in the League Two top of the table clash at The Racecourse.

Top scorer Mullin took his tally for the season to 20 goals with the brace and the striker moved onto 99 goals for the Reds who remain well placed in the push for automatic promotion.

Victory keeps Wrexham third in the table but on the same number of points as Mansfield who dropped to second place.

https://www.leaderlive.co.uk/sport/24221194.wrexham-win-2-0-top-table-clash-mansfield/

Stockport County won at Forest Green and have taken over as leaders, one point ahead of the Stags and Phil Parkinson's men with a game in hand, while the Reds remain three ahead of MK Dons who sit fourth.

Wrexham have six games remaining in the quest for a top-three finish.

Parkinson made one change from the side that started the brilliant 3-1 win at Grimsby Town the previous weekend.

Utility player James McClean, available after serving a two-match suspension, earned an immediate recall and took over from the injured Jacob Mendy at left-wing back.

There was also a place on the substitutes bench for George Evans and Ryan Barnett who have both been sidelined with injuries, with the former ruled out since mid-February and the latter missing one match.

Wrexham had an early sight of goal following a good move started by Andy Cannon who won the ball and fed Luke Bolton, his cross was partially cleared and Elliot Lee's overhead kick was comfortably saved by keeper Christy Pym.

Neither side created any clear cut chances with McClean firing well wide from Tom O'Connor's low free-kick into the area before Max Cleworth made a superb block to deny Will Swan who was put through on goal for the Stags.

McClean failed to make clean contact from Mullin's cross and the ball was easily gathered by Pym, but Wrexham took the lead in the 32nd minute.

Cleworth played in Cannon whose low cross from the right wasn't dealt with by centre-backs Lewis Brunt and Aden Flint, with the ball reaching Mullin who fired home from eight yards.

Aaron Lewis tried his luck from outside the area for Mansfield but his curl(''): Okonkwo; Bolton (Barnett 73), Cleworth, O'Connell, Boyle, McClean; Cannon, O'Connor, Lee (Evans 88); Mullin (Marriott 88), Palmer (Fletcher 73). Subs not used: Howard, McFadzean, Dalby.

Mansfield Town (4-3-1-2): Pym; Hewitt (McLaughlin 8), Flint, Brunt (Gale 46), Bowery; Clarke (Maris 68), Reed, Lewis; Keillor-Dunn (Boateng 68); Akins, Swan (Nichols 46). Subs not used: Flinders, Quinn.

Attendance: 12,494 (1,147 from Mansfield).

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REPORT: Wrexham AFC 2-0 Mansfield Town
Red Dragons claim vital win in battle for promotion

wrexhamafc.co.uk, by Will Pritchard, Fri 29 Mar 2024

Wrexham AFC gave their promotion hopes a massive boost, as Paul Mullin’s double earned a 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Mansfield Town at the STōK Cae Ras.

Mullin opened the scoring after 32 minutes, as a defensive mix-up from the Stags allowed Wrexham’s number ten to break the deadlock with a well-timed finish at the back post.

The forward then wrapped up victory from the spot in the 68th minute, as Mullin smashed home to record his 99th goal for the Club.

https://www.wrexhamafc.co.uk/news/2024/march/report--wrexham-afc-2-0-mansfield-town/

On a day where Stockport moved back to the summit of Sky Bet League Two, Wrexham’s victory moves them level on points with the Stags and sets up a thrilling final six league matches of the 2023/24 campaign.

Phil Parkinson named one change to the side that claimed a 3-1 win over Grimsby last weekend, as James McClean returned from suspension and replaced Jacob Mendy, who picked up an injury at Blundell Park.

As expected, given the magnitude of the match, both teams sternly contested the opening stages at an impressive intensity in front of the Sky cameras.

While both sides battled away swiftly, James McClean, who had only just returned from suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards this season, was booked in the 3rd minute.

Challenges flew in swiftly in North Wales, with neither Wrexham nor Mansfield wanting to give their opponents any chance to grow into the fixture.

Elliot Lee fired an early warning in the opening stages, as he attempted an audacious bicycle-kick which was caught by Christy Pym in the fifth minute.

The first half was largely affected by the ever-changing conditions at the SToK Cae Ras, often going from blistering sunlight to torrential rain and everything in-between, before the weather eventually settled.

Nigel Clough’s side almost broke the deadlock after 27 minutes, and they might’ve succeeded, had it not been for Max Cleworth’s last-minute challenge on Will Swan to deny the forward from firing a close-range effort at Arthur Okonkwo.

While Mansfield provided a stern test in the opening half hour, it was inevitable that Wrexham talisman Paul Mullin broke the deadlock in a game of such importance in the race for promotion.

Andy Cannon shifted forwards down the right-flank, latching onto a perfectly weighted through pass, before firing a low cross into Mansfield’s box with 32 minutes played.

It seemed that Lewis Brunt was in an ample position to clear the effort, but he failed to connect with the cross just like his captain Aden Flint.

That failure left Mullin to calmly fire first-time into the bottom corner, sparking celebrations in front of the Temporary Kop Fourth Wall.

Three minutes were added on prior to the interval, but neither side could add any further goals at the STōK Cae Ras prior to half time.

Mansfield made a double substitution at the break, as the Stags looked to recover from Mullin’s first-half blow.

The Stags had a goal disallowed in the 61st minute, as Davis Keillor-Dunn looked to have rounded Okonkwo and fired into the net - but the forward had kicked the ball out of the Wrexham keeper’s hands in the build-up.

Wrexham then took the initiative and found a crucial second goal just six minutes later, giving Parkinson’s side much needed breathing space in the fixture.

Luke Bolton caused the opposition a plethora of issues down the right-flank, and he was brought down by Jordan Bowery in the Mansfield box.

After much deliberation, Lewis Smith pointed to the spot, much to the delight of the Wrexham faithful.

Mullin stepped up to take the spot-kick, and after a brief pause to compose himself, the striker smashed the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Christy Pym with no chance as he doubled the Red Dragons’ advantage.

Wrexham almost extended their lead to three goals in the 78th minute, as an outstretched Steven Fletcher managed to get on the end of a brilliant ball towards the back post, but he couldn’t quite get his effort under control and on target.

The fourth official indicated another five minutes to be added, but it didn’t matter, as a stern effort from both ends of the pitch gave Wrexham a clean sheet to go with victory - which could be crucial come the end of the 2023/24 Sky Bet League Two campaign.

Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo (GK), Cleworth, O'Connell, Boyle, Bolton (Barnett 74’), O'Connor, Cannon, Lee (Evans 88’), McClean, Mullin (C) (Marriott 88’), Palmer (Fletcher 74’).

Subs not used: Howard, McFadzean, Dalby.

Mansfield Town: Pym, Hewitt (McLaughlin 8’), Flint (C), Brunt (Nichols 46’), Bowery, Reed, Lewis, Clarke (Maris 68’), Keillor-Dunn (Boateng 68’), Akins, Swan (Gale 46’).

Subs not used: Flinders, Quinn.

Match Attendance: 12,494 (1,147 Away)

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Wrexham end week of renewed spending scrutiny with priceless win in latest promotion push
WREXHAM 2-0 MANSFIELD: A brace from Wrexham's top goalscorer Paul Mullin saw earned the Welsh club a crucial win over promotion rivals Mansfield in League Two

mirror.co.uk, By Megan Fering, Fri 29 Mar 2024

There’s an argument to be made when this is Wrexham at their best: dogged, determined, needing to Do A Job and Dog Gone Doing It. Luck comes into it, what’s luck if not made? “Law of averages,” sung Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson after his side’s emphatic 2-0 win over promotion rivals Mansfield. “We were due one.”

If Paul Mullin’s spot-kick and Wrexham’s second goal felt a little tetchy and capricious, to an extent Wrexham earned their stroke of fortune. Mansfield are League Two’s more lethal attacking force and Wrexham - now sitting third in the league table level on points with The Stags in second and one point off leaders Stockport who tout a game in hand - restricted Nigel Clough’s side to just one shot on target: a fizzing low-driven effort from substitute James Gale shortly after the interval. Wrexham were resolute, obstinate and in the end, triumphant.

Six games remain, and while Parkinson is right (nothing is decided here, not in this colosseum of fourth tier football) to undermine the significance of this victory in a claustrophobic promotion battle would be harebrained. On Sunday as Wrexham Women piled 2,000 fans into the Stoke Cold Brew stand, one eye was cast towards today.

The parallels to last season were tantalising, shades of the 3-2 Notts County bouncing around before the day had even begun: roughly the same time, the same jeopardy, albeit the previous two-horse race has exploded into a five-horse race, a cavalcade sprinting towards League One. But it’s all the same: win here and the season promises to fall into place.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/wrexham-paul-mullin-mansfield-promotion-32473144

Even so, the story going into Friday afternoon’s promotion clash was money: how much Wrexham were making, how much they were spending, how much they were losing and owing.

Glancing at the numbers - £10.5million revenue, £6.9million in wages, £5.1million in losses, £9million owed to the co-owners in total - you can struggle to put it all into the context of real life. In these lower echelons of English football, it’s Monopoly money. But what’s a bit of cash owed and extra 000s on the end of a wage bill when these are the scenes: a bouncing Racecourse declaring in no uncertain terms that their rivals are nothing more than a **** Notts County ?

Mansfield’s misfortune began early, Clough’s side forced into an unwanted change less than three minutes in as James McClean - returning from a two-game suspension - clattered into Elliott Hewitt. The 29-year-old was making his first appearance in 11 months since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury and saw his day ended prematurely as Stephen McLaughlin was called to replace him. McClean was deservedly put into official Lewis Smith’s book.

The tone was set, played against a weather backdrop as indecisive and mercurial as the opening exchanges. Mansfield played the marginally smoother looking game though Arthur Okonkwo was hardly tested in the opening 20 minutes. Wrexham could be grateful for the interventions of Max Cleworth, Eoghan O’Connell and Will Boyle. the rest of the back three. Barring an audacious bicycle kick from Ollie Palmer in the fifth minute while the visitors were momentarily working with 10 men as Hewitt received treatment on the touchline, Wrexham toiled for quality in the final third, Mullin, donning the captain’s armband, cutting an increasingly isolated figure.

That was until the half-hour mark. Wrexham finally found an iota of a foothold down the right, Andy Cannon foraying forward and whistling a cross into the box which evaded Aden Flint and Lewis Brunt. There’s a cruel irony about Mullin in how he makes scoring goals look so splendidly rudimentary. There was technique required here, a latent instinct. And in the end - as so often he does - Mullin was wheeling away, number 17 of the campaign tucked away, number 98 of an increasingly glittering Wrexham tenure, a crowd in paroxysms as the promotion race bent evermore in their favour.

Make no mistake. This is what you get for money well spent: a striker who, despite spending the last two seasons in the National League, has scored the joint-second most goals in League Two since the 2020-21 season.

Mansfield entered the second half with a point to prove, but barring Gale’s shot, Mansfield toiled to produce or create anything of note. Wrexham saw a gilt-edged chance to double their advantage scuppered as Luke Bolton dallied too long before finding Mullin. Okonkwo’s dithering on the edge of the box looked to be duly punished by Mansfield’s leading goalscorer Davis Keillor-Dunn, who nicked the ball out of the keeper’s outstretched hands, knocked it around him and fired into an empty net - only for Smith to declare Okonkwo had managed to get two hands to the ball before Keillor-Dunn’s pilfering.

Before the striker’s grievances could settle, Bolton was clumsily chopped down outside Mansfield’s box. Bolton dived, laudably landing on the chalk-white line of the penalty area and after some time Smith pointed to the spot, much to the stunned chagrin of the visiting fans and the unbridled delight of the home support.

Mullin stopped up and rifled his spot-kick into the roof of the net, the venom of his 18th goal of the campaign and 99th of his Wrexham career breaking through keeper Christy Pym’s fingertips.

No one here is bandying around the words fairy tale anymore than they are bandying around the words automatic promotion. A penchant for bottling, as one fan behind the media desk declared, isn’t exorcised with one promotion.

But there’s an argument to be made that Wrexham are prepared for this battleground now, not only with the familiar experience from last season but the addition of such signings like McClean, a player with two previous promotions under his belt.

“James in particular, the bigger the game, the better he plays and Mulls as well,” said Parkinson. “The finishing line is getting closer and they can smell that sweet smell of hopefully success, we know there’s work to be done. The lads are relishing it and they should, we’ve worked hard to get into the top three and we’ve got six games to go, it’s about staying there.”

If you want to straw-clutch, there’s an argument to be made that an ownership group coming into a club and prudently ploughing in ginormous lump sums with positive upturns is Fairy Tale territory, especially when juxtaposed with modern football’s fondness for spending money as if at a Las Vegas craps table, wondering where it’s all gone at dawn [see: Everton Football Club].

But it would be wrong to say that money is no object in this game, and equally hard to argue Wrexham are acting out of order. If another club’s ownership had the sort of funds to spend in the anarchic financial GTA that is the National League and lower strata, the consensus is they would. Not so much out of desire but wont. Football’s romantic backwaters might be worlds away from the cash-soaked Premier League and even the enterprising sheen of the Championship. But cold hard cash is the thread which runs through everything. Get out of the National League and you could pocket £1million per year in broadcast revenue alone. Get out of League Two? Plenty more to follow.

If that puts the vibes in a bad place, let’s focus on the football. It’s what Wrexham are doing, and it could just about pay off.

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