The January 2013 transfer window slams shut, and though, in the end, neither David Beckham, Mario Balotelli nor David Villa found their way to the Blue Square Premier, there has been considerable movement throughout the league.
It has been a frustrating transfer window for Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell, who had begun the month expecting to tie up a deal for Danny Devine, only to see his head swung by an offer from Scottish Premier League outfit Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
As defensive errors continue to come with alarming regularity, Morrell has failed to improve his leaky and threadbare defence. Even before Joslain Mayebi’s season-ending ruptured achilles injury, Morrell confirmed he was more inclined to increase his attacking resources than defensive.
The loan signing of goalkeeper Chris Maxwell is a sensible one, however, given his familiarity with the Racecourse setup. It is far easier for Morrell to bring back someone who will be immediately assured within the environment, than hope that a new signing acclimatizes to a run of at least six games in the next month, which includes a two-legged FA Trophy semi-final.
Maxwell was joined at Wrexham earlier this month by midfielder Kevin Thornton, who scored on his debut in the 5-0 FA Trophy win over Sutton United.
With the race for promotion to the Football League gathering momentum, Wrexham’s rivals have been equally busy during the January window. Nine points separate Grimsby Town at the top from Luton Town in 6th, who incidentally have up to four games in hand on the teams immediately above them.
Luton, riding on the crest of an FA Cup 5th Round wave, have been the most active this month. Despite their cup heroics, the Kenilworth Road side have been unable to build a meaningful promotion push and currently sit 4 points off the play-off positions. But a window that has included the signings of Jonathan Smith from York, the Bissau-Guinea international Arnaud Mendy from Macclesfield and Fleetwood centre-back Steve McNulty, could yet see the Hatters make the end-of-season finale.
Kidderminster Harriers have, after a sluggish start to the season, have picked up points with increasing regularity and look likely to finally break free from their consecutive sixth-placed finishes of the last two seasons. The capture of Danny Jackman from Gillingham, stepping out of the Football League for the first time in his career, looks to stand Kiddy in good stead.
Forest Green Rovers, who host Wrexham on Saturday, lie just four points off the automatic promotion spot and have added the loan signings of Yemi Odubade and Dale Bennett, his fifth loan stint in just two years, to bolster their chances.
Newport County have lost five of their last ten Conference Premier games and are facing up to the next month without top scorer Aaron O’Connor. Their crunch fixture with Kidderminster on Saturday should act as a barometer for how the club is shaping up without O’Connor, who was man of the match in the Welsh Derby in early January.
The signings of Robbie Willmott from Cambridge United and Christian Jolley from AFC Wimbledon, along with the loan capture of Will Evans will undoubtedly boost the current playing squad.
League leaders Grimsby Town have been in formidable form in recent months and have not lost since a 3-2 reversal at Hyde in early November. The Mariners have added Ross Hannah, who’d already impressed with 10 goals in an earlier loan spell, Lennell John Lewis from Bury – who according to the club website ‘puts everything into his game and everything behind a shot on goal.’
January signings, throughout the football leagues, have not always proved decisive in the destination of trophies, but squad strengthening has often proved paramount. Wrexham have strengthened numbers in midfield, but not added as much quality as Grimsby or Luton have.
That the defensive frailties, so evident in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Southport, have gone unaddressed is a worry, but its urgency was lessened in light of Jos Mayebi’s season-ending injury. That the issue has been remedied with minimal fuss is a credit to Morrell. Now he has a promotion-push and Wembley crusade to orchestrate.