The Man With The Golden Gloves
Bryan Hughes today (23/05/19) made his second most important signing of the close season.
Rob Lainton, collector of a club record-equalling 25 clean sheets in 48 appearances has committed himself to the Reds until the end of the 2020/21 season after penning a two year deal. Lainton even hinted he could stay beyond this, telling the club’s media team he was happy to secure his future here for “the next two seasons at the least”. Bloody big tease.
Now Wrexham boss Hughes just needs to find someone who can match those sort of stats at the business end of the pitch if Wrexham are to turn one-nillers into goal-laden thrillers.
There was plenty of amazement and delight to the news of Lainton’s ‘recapture’ as fans took to social media to profess their love for our best permanent, long-term custodian since Chris Maxwell.
Baseless speculation was rife that the outstanding Player of the Season was heading to pastures new, specifically a spring water-sponsored Meadow ruled by a snake.
However, whilst it is so easy to assume the reasons why Lainton may have sought or welcomed a departure from the Cae Ras — in demand, better wage, etc — it’s equally simple to work out why he has opted to stay.
Whilst he makes his job look easy with his unbelievable agility and sound reading of the game, the commanders in chief who stand tall ahead of him also make his vital duties seem pretty irregular.
Messrs Pearson and Lawlor have formed an imperious partnership, one which certainly offers more mobility and dynamism than when Manny Smith was alongside the skipper. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Manny fan but I just feel Lawlor is a touch more comfortable with the ball at his feet. Plus Smith, when he returns from injury isn’t a bad back-up option to have in the slightest. And don’t forget Doug Tharme, who I think will play a bigger part next season.
At 29 Top Cat Lainton is in his prime. He could have risked a move elsewhere but there is no greater guarantee than regular first team football than at a club where you’ve swept the board at the end of season awards knees-up.
He’s very well liked in these parts and arrived in North Wales after failing to convince the Port Vale faithful of his capabilities, largely because of injury.
In fact Lainton has been unlucky with niggling injuries at most of his previous clubs, ending up playing second fiddle to goalkeepers when losing his shirt through no fault of his own.
However, he knows he is the main Number One at Wrexham and is safe in the knowledge that his main challenger, studious penalty pupil Christian Dibble is happy to keep the bench warm until he gets his chance.
After a stellar season sandwiched between the sticks the shutout king’s stock has risen, and so too that of rookie boss Hughes for thrashing out a deal to keep THE main man after Pearson in a red (well, illuminous green) shirt.
Add in being tutored by one of the most underrated Premier League goalkeepers there ever was in former Finnish international Jussi Jääskeläinen (pictured above) and there was never any doubt Lainton was staying, was there?
- Photos kindly supplied by Alun Roberts (@aluninhope).