Wrexham kept alive their National League title hopes with an impressive win over Stockport County which saw them replace the Hatters as leaders.
Ollie Palmer’s brace and Paul Mullin’s strike secured a win which saw the Dragons go top on goal difference.
County have a game in hand and four points from home games against Torquay on Wednesday and Halifax Town next Sunday would see them win the title.
Wrexham visit Dagenham & Redbridge in their final league fixture.
Phil Parkinson’s Wrexham have clawed back an 11-point gap which had separated them and the league leaders at the start of April thanks to a 15-game unbeaten run alongside three defeats for County.
But defeat at Woking and a draw at Boreham Wood for Parkinson’s men meant County went into Sunday’s game three points ahead.
The two teams made a committed start in what was a frantic and physical opening 15 minutes at a packed and noisy Racecourse Stadium, with both sides well aware of what was at stake.
Miles Hippolyte had the first chance for the visitors and Christian Dibble had to stretch to stop his low shot, gathering at the second attempt.
Dave Challinor’s men enjoyed a good spell after that with Max Cleworth having to head away Antoni Sarcevic’s goalbound attempt before the striker had an effort saved by Dibble.
Dibble also did well to get his fingertips on the ball to divert an advancing Scott Quigley away from goal and the Stockport threat passed.
Wrexham weathered the storm and Mullin’s overhead kick, from a Ben Tozer throw, was tipped over by Ben Hinchliffe before Cleworth headed wide from the resulting corner.
Paddy Madden fired wide of the post but it was Wrexham who broke the deadlock.
Tozer’s long throw again caused problems for the County defense and Palmer headed past Hinchliffe for his 15th league goal since joining Wrexham from AFC Wimbledon for a record fee in January.
Buoyed by that goal, Wrexham pushed forward and Mullin’s shot from a tight angle was parried by Hinchliffe.
But Wrexham’s top scorer was not to be denied as he coolly beat the County keeper after an excellent through ball from Jordan Davies.
The home side extended their lead in the opening minute of the second period, with Palmer getting his head to Davies’ free-kick for his second of the afternoon.
The game had swung in Wrexham’s favor and a missed opportunity by Madden and a tame Hippolyte free-kick which sailed over summed up Stockport’s fortunes.
Liam Hogan headed over as well but Wrexham, with a three-goal advantage, looked comfortable in the second half and secured the win which sets up an exciting finale to the season.
Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson said:
“They probably started the better team but the game management was good after that and we reset as a team and grew into the game and it was a well-deserved victory.
“It’s accomplished mission today. We wanted to come into this game with something to play for and we’ve done it.
“We wanted to go the last game with something to play for and we now go to Dagenham ready to take care of our own business.
“We’ve secured the top three and that’s important – the aim obviously is to get the top spot and let’s see what happens this week.
“If we don’t we’ve got to be ready to go right to the wire in the play-offs and I believe we’ve got a group capable of doing that.”
- 7DavisSubstituted forO’Connorat 86′minutes
- 32CleworthBooked at 69mins
- 6TozerBooked at 90mins
- 35PalmerSubstituted forPonticelliat 90+1′minutes
- 17RydelSubstituted forcrankshawat 65′minutes
- twenty-oneHippolyteBooked at 90mins
- 22QuigleyBooked at 39minsSubstituted forJenningsat 46′minutes
- 3. 4Francis-Angol
- Martin Woods
Match ends, Wrexham 3, Stockport County 0.
Second Half ends, Wrexham 3, Stockport County 0.
Myles Hippolyte (Stockport County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Substitution, Wrexham. Jordan Ponticelli replaces Ollie Palmer.
Ben Tozer (Wrexham) is shown the yellow card.
Substitution, Wrexham. Thomas O’Connor replaces Jordan Davies.
Max Cleworth (Wrexham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Substitution, Stockport County. Oliver Crankshaw replaces Ryan Rydel.
Substitution, Stockport County. Connor Jennings replaces Scott Quigley.
Goal! Wrexham 3, Stockport County 0. Ollie Palmer (Wrexham).
Second Half begins Wrexham 2, Stockport County 0.
First Half ends, Wrexham 2, Stockport County 0.
Goal! Wrexham 2, Stockport County 0. Paul Mullin (Wrexham).
Scott Quigley (Stockport County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Goal! Wrexham 1, Stockport County 0. Ollie Palmer (Wrexham).
Lineups are announced and players are warming up.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.