Fearless Archive: Captain King Keates

***this was initially written for and published by the Daily Post on 11/10/13 three days after Wrexham had edged out Southport 1-0 in front of 2,734 fans ***

He's back. And maybe, just maybe, so are Wrexham.

It came as no surprise that the return of Dean Keates to the starting XI on Tuesday night yielded a return to winning ways after a run of miserable results, the home draw against leaders Cambridge United an obvious exception.

The captain won’t stop the rot on his own but he showed against Southport that he has began steering the good ship Wrexham away from the rocks. 
His performance made it all the more unthinkable that we nearly let him go in the summer.

Keates’s last appearance in a red shirt ended in playoff heartbreak - an anomaly on a CV boasting six promotions. There was never going to be any danger of that against the Sandgrounders. 
After his first pass went straight to a Southport defender he was imperious, spraying passes both long and short to his team-mates with ease and confidence.

When there was nothing on for him he allowed himself a few more seconds before picking out Joe Clarke ten yards ahead of him - you won’t see Keates turning on a six pence and retreating back towards his own goalkeeper.

Even when goalkeeper Andy Coughlin’s shanked clearance kick fell straight to Keates at pace it wasn’t a problem for Wrexham’s troubleshooter. He took the sting out of it before setting his side up for one of many attacks. 
The disguised pass to Mark Carrington out wide, the angular cross-field drives to Neil Ashton, the diving header he directed just wide, Keates was back in his element.

But enough platitudes about his playing ability. He brings so much more to the table and that is why he is Andy Morrell’s lieutenant when he crosses the white line.

Ten minutes before the break Keates gestured to Brett Ormerod to keep persevering after the veteran striker castigated himself for over-hitting his pass to Ashton on the overlap out of play.

He was always talking, always applauding the efforts of his team-mates, always willing to take the ball on and always assessed the situation from deep as his men poured forward.

At the final whistle Keates, his body battered and aching but his mind sharp and racing, gave a fist-pumping salute as if he was bench-pressing back in the gym, his temporary workplace for the past few months. 
He congratulated every man on the pitch including the officials and walked off to a standing ovation.

His presence also gave rise to several other impressive performances. Coughlin, a rookie thrown in at the deep end last year when Joslain Mayebi was on international duty, is taking his chance in style at the expense of the Cameroon goalkeeper, whose error in the defeat to Salisbury was one too many for Morrell.

Under the tutelage of coach Michael Oakes Coughlin has gained confidence and if Tuesday’s star turn is anything to go by has improved his ability beyond what anyone perhaps expected. 
He tipped a shot onto the post at the end of the first half before producing two crucial saves moments before Wrexham broke the deadlock - two huge turning points which gave those fans exasperated by Mayebi’s clangers some belief that there is a pair of safe hands in the squad.

Joe Anyinsah, or "who?" when we signed him was Wrexham’s match-winner. He’s certainly not anonymous anymore. Big, strong and determined, he could have let his head drop after watching several chances come and go his way before he clipped in his second successive goal for the club.

The skipper, the shot-stopper and the striker - season-saving saviours. Just maybe.

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