Nothing illustrated the remarkable transformation in Wrexham’s fortunes during Saturday’s 10-goal thriller better than the choice of music over the PA system at the Racecourse Ground.

As Phil Parkinson’s dejected players trooped off the field at half-time with Swindon Town 4-1 ahead, they did so with Talking Heads’ 1985 hit single — Road to Nowhere — booming around the world’s oldest international football stadium.

An hour or so later and with 10,258 fans hailing a quite remarkable comeback after Wrexham scored twice in stoppage time to rescue a point, the change of mood was reflected by a song that featured in both Top Gun films starring Tom Cruise.

“Highway to the danger zone,” Kenny Loggins could be heard singing over and over again in north Wales shortly after 5pm as those basking in the sunshine tried to catch their breath.

It felt apt, as many more games like this 5-5 draw and you do wonder if local hearts will be able to take the strain. “People will be talking about this game for a long time,” said Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson.

A whopping 24 goals have now been scored in Wrexham’s first three home games back in the EFL.

No wonder co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took to social media shortly after the final whistle to effectively deliver the same message. Never Leave A Wrexham Match Early.

So much heart. #NeverLeaveAWrexhamMatchEarly

— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) August 19, 2023

_The Athletic _tells the story of a remarkable afternoon, with the help of Wrexham manager Parkinson and Swindon Town boss Michael Flynn, plus Wrexham’s two-goal hero Elliot Lee, and Jake Young, whose two goals for so long looked to have clinched victory for the Wiltshire club.

Here’s how it unfolded…

Wrexham 0-1 Swindon Town (Jake Young, 17mins)

Wrexham 0-2 Swindon Town (Charlie Austin, 27mins)

Wrexham 1-2 Swindon Town (Jake Bickerstaff, 29mins)

Wrexham 1-3 Swindon Town (Daniel Kemp, 31mins)

Wrexham 1-4 Swindon Town (Young, 34mins)

Wrexham 2-4 Swindon Town (Elliot Lee penalty, 51mins)

Wrexham 3-4 Swindon Town (James Jones, 55mins)

Wrexham 3-5 Swindon Town (Kemp, 71mins)

Wrexham 4-5 Swindon Town (Jones, 90+2mins)

Wrexham 5-5 Swindon Town (Lee, 90+6mins)

Wrexham 5-5 Swindon

Absolute madness between @Wrexham_AFC & @Official_STFC in League Two, this afternoon.

— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) August 19, 2023

Wrexham 0-2 Swindon Town (27mins)

After a quiet and largely even opening quarter of an hour, the match springs into life via two Swindon goals inside 10 minutes. Both times, Wrexham cough up cheap possession in a dangerous area — Andy Cannon at fault first, thenJacob Mendy — and are made to pay when Young and Charlie Austin convert from right-wing crosses.

Phil Parkinson: “We’d spoken about it during the week. How against Wigan Athletic (in the Carabao Cup when keeping their only clean sheet of the season) we stopped the crosses and blocked the shots on the edge of the box.

“Too many crosses came in against Swindon and too many headers were lost in the middle of the goal. When those crosses came in from the right-hand side (for the opening two goals), that is not what we are about. We just couldn’t get the basics right.”

Jake Young: “Our game plan went to a tee. We got a fairly early goal to silence the crowd. The first half epitomised us. When we can be good, that’s what we are. No team in the league will be able to deal with us when we are like that. The football is exciting, we get bodies forward.”


Young puts Swindon 1-0 up (Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)

Wrexham 1-2 Swindon Town (29mins)

_Wrexham are given a lifeline when Jake Bickerstaff shows great tenacity on 29 minutes to muscle his way past Frazer Blake-Tracy and Remeao Hutton wide on the left before beating goalkeeper Murphy Mahoney from a tight angle. _

Elliot Lee: “As a team, we weren’t on it in the first half. But Bickers deserved that goal.

“That’s what you want, Bickers using his body like that for the goal. Like Mulls (Paul Mullin, who broke four ribs and suffered a collapsed lung during Wrexham’s U.S. tour) does by getting in behind and using his body. Credit to Bickers, he’s always watching Mulls in training. He’s been great since getting into the team. Had to be patient. But Bickers is really taking his chance.”

Wrexham 1-4 Swindon Town (34mins)

Wrexham’s hopes of levelling matters before the break evaporate via more calamitous defending. First, Lee is knocked off the ball in midfield by George McEachran and seconds later Daniel Kemp makes it 3-1. Then, afterRyan Barnett aimlessly kicks the ball into midfield, Young adds a fourth goal for the visitors.

Michael Flynn: “We were excellent. We gave them their goal but still could have been out of sight (by half-time). That’s the frustrating thing.”

Parkinson: “We’d been second best all over the pitch. We needed to be stronger as a team. When the pressure is on, you have to keep showing for the ball. You have to keep playing.


Parkinson: “The team talk was generally about the need to man up. A lot. But, equally, show the courage to play. I felt we could do that. At 4-1, I was still confident we would respond.”

Lee: “The gaffer had a pop at a few of us at half-time but he also said Bickers (Bickerstaff) was our best player. He was bang on.

“There were a few choice words said by us all in the dressing room. Too many of us had been off it and too many weren’t putting our foot in. Fair play to the gaffer, though, because he was probably the calmest in the room. He settled us all down. He’s been in these positions before. He’s not stupid.

“He knew one goal and we could build from there. We just had to start the second half on the front foot, with a lot of intensity.”

Wrexham 3-4 Swindon Town (55mins)

The jeers that had followed Wrexham’s crestfallen players down the tunnel at half-time quickly turn to cheers, as Lee pulls a goal back with a 51st-minute penalty afterOllie Palmer is bundled to the ground by Blake-Tracy. Four minutes later, James Jones reduces the deficit further with a cool finish after being put through by Lee.

Flynn: “We knew exactly what to expect after half-time. But those first 1o minutes, we played into their hands. We went a bit too long. Maybe because of the wind, as it was against us.

“Stupid mistakes. You pull people in the box, you are going to have a penalty given against you. We need to cut that out.”


(Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)

Young: “Maybe we came out possibly too negative, in terms of trying to keep what we had got.”

Parkinson : “At 4-3 I did think we’d win the game. I really did. I think the fans sensed that themselves. We have had games, such as Dover last season, when we were getting beat (2-5) but came back to win 6-5. Because of that, the crowd believe in this group.

“But then we had a bit of a lull in our intensity and they got the fifth.”

Wrexham 3-5 Swindon Town (71mins)

More poor defending allows Swindon to further punish their hosts via another clinical finish from Kemp. Coming after three big let-offs for the hosts — Young shot narrowly wide and then hit the crossbar either side ofBen Tozer almost scoring an own goal with a horribly miscued back pass — falling two goals behind again feels to be a fatal blow.

Young: “At 5-3, I felt we’d weathered the storm. We’d conceded the two goals early in the second half but once Kempy got his second goal, I thought we had a good spell of control and were keeping the ball.”

Parkinson: “The fifth goal was a blow. It knocked the stuffing out of everyone for a little bit.”

‘Never give up’ – 90 minutes

Fourth official Joe Simpson holds the board up to reveal there will be a minimum of five minutes of stoppage time. Any hopes of a late fightback seem to have gone with Swindon rarely looking troubled in the closing stages of normal time.

Parkinson: “I thought there should have been more than five minutes. If we are talking about the time added on so far this season, that was disappointing. But I still believed we could score. It is why I was ready to throw (goalkeeper) Ben Foster up for the corners.”

Lee: “When you are in that position, you never give up. Even when it is just a 0.1 per cent chance in our favour.”

Wrexham 4-5 Swindon Town (90+2mins)

_A mis-hit shot from Mendy finds its way to Jones six yards out and he heads past Mahoney. Ninety-two minutes are on the clock. _

Flynn: “We got there, blocked it and then there was a ricochet to land at one of theirs. Sometimes it is not entirely your day.”

Wrexham, Swindon

Swindon fans react to Wrexham’s comeback (Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)

Wrexham 5-5 Swindon Town (90+6mins)

With time almost up, Wrexham launch one last attack. Referee Charles Breakspear adjudges Tom Brewitt to have handled just outside the penalty area when blocking a shot. After a short delay for Swindon’s protests, Mahoney saves from substituteLuke Young only for the ball to eventually fall to Lee. He finishes first time to send the home fans into raptures.

Lee: “I’m wondering at first, ‘What’s he given here?’ Was it a penalty? In the end, it’s a free kick on the edge of the area. Youngy, Tom (O’Connor) and Anthony Forde are all standing there over the ball. I’m saying to myself, ‘If there is a rebound, I’m going to be on the end of it’.


Lee salvages a point for Wrexham (Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Youngy hit a great shot and the keeper made a good save, but it ricochets my way off Dalbs (Sam Dalby). The feeling when the ball hit the net was incredible.”

Parkinson: “Elliot is inspirational at the moment by the way he is playing and his goal threat. He makes runs like a forward does into the box. I am pleased with his return (of four goals).”

Young: “I don’t think it was a handball at all.”

Flynn: “A key moment with 30 seconds to go. Charles is an experienced referee so I am very, very surprised he has given that. I’ve just watched it back and the ball clearly hit the shoulder. And his view was hampered. I don’t know how he has seen that.

“Taking that away, I have told the players that some of our decision-making and our defending left a lot to be desired. If you think about how many crosses and long throws we had to deal with, we did that well. We just made mistakes when the ball was on the floor.”

Parkinson: “This club has a spirit. It was a remarkable comeback from the lads. We had 28 attempts on goal. I doubt anyone will have had that many in any of the divisions today.

“Equally, not many teams will have conceded five, either. We have a lot of work ahead of us this week on the training ground. I’m looking forward to it already.”

Flynn: “We were the best team on the park. We could have had seven or eight. We have ripped them open at will. But individual errors cost us. This is hurting. I won’t lie. It is a game we should have won.”

Lee: “Special things can happen here and that’s what happened today.”

_ (Top photo: Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images)_