Wrexham 6 County 1 ( FA Trophy 2nd Round Replay) 13 January 2015

County went down to predictable defeat at the hands of Conference Premier full timers Wrexham last night at the snow bound Racecourse Ground. The 6-1 score line arguably reflected the difference between the two sides, but it might have been different....had an assault and a touch of the Harlem Globetrotters 18 minutes in from Wrexham not gone unpunished......or had the near side liner ( so fastidious in the first half flagging men in blue offside) not kept his flag resolutely down when Wrexham slotted two clearly offside efforts home moving a 2-1 score line quickly on to a far less manageable 4-1.Wrexham scored ( twice) immediately after first incidents, and the third and fourth goals virtually ended the game as a contest, just as County were rallying.
Rug pulled from under them then,and with County unable to put any real pressure on outfield player Joe Clarke who went in goal in the 2nd half, the blues FA Trophy hopes went west , so its concentrate on the play off push( another big ask) now. County can take consolation in the performance of Chris Churchman who is rapidly getting there. There was the happy sight also of Charlie Russell making his debut. It was perhaps not the best night for this talented young footballer to make his first appearance, but I look forward to many more!
Winds as bitingly cold as any in the Arctic Circle, greeted us as we waited to board the Flyer for the journey to North Wales. It really was no surprise to find the Racecourse Ground in the midst of a snow storm not long after we took up position in the corner of the old stand opposite the main stand. 141 made the effort to support County, and I must say that the support given to the team by the group of younger supporters to my rear, was exemplary- they even made a decent fist of a version of Arthur Brownlow, as the Welsh goals went in!

Great support !
I found no one anticipating a County win, most, instead, were left wondering whether we could field a side at all, with Moses now joining the lengthy injury list. Just who we could play in midfield was a real poser.
The answer soon revealed itself to us..... Churchman has been steadily improving all season, and  he was in , and A.L. pushed Lees forward into midfield along with Matthew Todd, and these 3 looked set to provide cover for a re-jigged back four of Belezika, Fagbola, O`Halloran and Duxbury, with Dennis, Sharp and Ryan up front.

Great support was emanating from behind me in the early minutes of the game, as both teams tentatively probed the other for an opening. It was 3 minutes before anything at all positive came from our hosts, and when it did via Ashton, Belezika was in position to find touch under pressure.

Fagbola clears up.....
Wrexham started to build moves with growing confidence after this, and Fagbola did well to get a vital touch with Mount about to convert York`s cross into the gold of an early goal.
On 5 minutes, Lees saw his surging up-field run cut short by Ashton`s tackle, and Jennings just failed with an attempt to send York through a minute later, so , when Hurst dealt with a further effort from Ashton , shortly after , it was entirely possible to feel reasonably happy with life, with 8 or 9  minutes gone.
With Churchman already showing signs of growing maturity in midfield, it was disappointing to see a lively run from him come to nothing , cut out by Wrexham`s well drilled defence.
By the quarter hour mark I was beginning to work up a rant though.....as Ryan was penalised for brutally heading Harris`s knee. Thankfully the free kick was wasted by the Welshmen, but I was warming to the rant idea!
Ryan searching for scraps.

For a time however, Wrexham were able to play some fairly controlled football.....there was little in the way of outright threat about it ,but the thought that soon there might be, was in the back of my  addled head! Jennings for instance......set Mount up nicely, but with time to spare he shot wide. Evans meanwhile thought he could do altogether better than Mount, but despite another decent move, he sent the poorest of shots high into the empty terrace behind the goal!

Sharp and Bachmann.....
That was 18 minutes in......the 19th and 20th brought game changing decisions by the referee and near side liner! First off a shot from outside the box thundered into a defenders hand in the box( no penalty apparently)......and this was quickly followed up by the blues who piled forward into the box. With the Blue & White Army still howling in dismay at the last calumny, another followed promptly as Sharp was hacked down- the only response from the referee being a mime that was as unconvincing as it was annoying!
Sharp and Ryan twice tried to capitalise on a certain uncertainty in the home ranks, but were denied both times, and Sods Law came into play immediately after as Wrexham gained a cheap free kick near the left touchline. It was way out, but York chanced his arm, and lifted it into the swirling mix of wind and snow overhead. Hurst moved towards it as it came down but couldn`t reach it and the ball flew into the top corner of the net much to County`s dismay, and just about everyone`s surprise!
If that was bad...it quickly got worse as a pass from Harris sent York clear down the right , and it was 2-0 to the Welshman as the resultant cross picked out Mount who slotted his shot home.
Blizzard conditions.....

Spot the County player midst the snow flurry....
That was a real bummer....to go 2 down within seconds of looking on the verge of taking the lead! The blues tried hard to hit back after these setbacks, but Wrexham were of a mind not to countenance any such thing , indeed a third goal looked more in their minds, and I peered through the blizzard to see the ball bouncing about in the box where Bishop`s shot was hurriedly ushered for a corner by County. Dogged defence followed on from this, and credit must go to our make shift back line for holding out in this period long enough for a counter to be mounted!

County put Wrexham under pressure....

This came via Sharp, whose run down the left thoroughly stretched the Welsh team`s resources. The ball in from Chris signalled raw panic for the home side and Smith was not 100% certain his anxious toe-poke would not send the ball past Bachmann into the net rather than for the corner it did. 

Dennis, Bachmann...and some snow.

If County had ambitions as the kick came over these were quickly dispelled as the referee `saw something’ and Wrexham`s angst was over- they had a free kick!
Jennings in top gear....
A slightly hairy moment when Jennings `appeared’ in the box, and Fagbola and O`Halloran had to look lively to avoid a third goal going in apart .......with half time approaching , County were  making a decent fist of getting back in to the game, starting with Belezika who did well imposing himself on Ashton and others and pushing on into the opposition half. Todd came with him, and only the strength of Belezika`s final ball undid him near the by-line.
Belezika`s pass just eludes Todd.

County kept the pressure on and , with a couple of minutes left of the half, got their reward as Churchman latched onto the ball some way outside the box ,and sent the fiercest of drives past the diving Bachmann into the net!

Bachmann cannot stop Churchman`s shot going in !
Twice after this Hurst was in action keeping shots from the immensely irritating York out, but the teams went in at the break with still much to play for and with County by no means out of it.
This situation continued to appertain in the opening minutes of the second half, and Wrexham found themselves defending as Lees pushed forward, helped by Belezika and the impressive Churchman. Sharp was in the mix there somewhere too, but his cross from the right just missed Ryan at the back post so it stayed 2-1. It stayed that way for perhaps a couple of minutes when County shipped a match killing body blow courtesy of the near side liner whose flag that had been so active in the first half remained rooted to his side as York`s cross reached Bishop who forced home the third goal, whilst standing some yard or so offside!

The liners take on the `Mumbles Mambo'
If that last action wasn`t traumatic enough we were stretched out on life`s rack of excruciating torture again almost immediately , when the same liner did a repeat performance allowing York, this time at least 2 yards offside, to pop the fourth in!
At this point, the highly promising youngster Charlie Russell replaced Matthew Todd, but despite Belezika and Sharp working in tandem, it was really `game over’ now and even I realised it!

Debut boy Charlie Russell.
Duxbury and Churchman did their best too, and Dennis saw a volley drift wide, but this was a rare moment in the action for the ex Ashton striker who looked largely peripheral drifting wide and looking for scraps.

County defend grimly.
By way of contrast, Wrexham had the wind in their sales now and Hurst did well to stop Jennings effort with his legs as he surged in on goal in the hunt for a fifth.
This was  a fair way off....another 10 minutes in fact, thanks to some determined rearguard action from the hard pressed blues, but when it came there was no doubting the validity of the effort as Mount saw off Fagbola`s challenge to slot the ball home past Hurst.

Hurst clears his lines......

Spencer, who had come on for Sharp , was finding life tough, and workable scraps in short supply- the closest thing to one being a pass from Ryan ,with 10 minutes left, but his luck was out and  so was County`s . They battled on....defending well as shots from York and Keaton pinged in making life uncomfortable.
York was coming more and more into the game in the final stages, but his propensity to go to ground and when there feign dire injury, was becoming more than irksome. Fagbola did well to cut one cross from him out, with Mount on lurk duty in front of goal, but no one was able to intervene when  substitute Tomassen nipped in to add to County`s misery making it 6-1.
Four minutes added time seemed like about 20, and it was with not a little relief that I heard the referee`s whistle blow for a final time signalling the homeward trek.
Road closures notwithstanding the Flyer made it back safely, and.....as well as Saturdays trip to Gainsborough ( leaving 11 o`clock), the Flyer will definitely be going to Alsager for the Cheshire Cup game next Tuesday- will you?

County line up;

Hurst, Belezika, Fagbola, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Todd( Russell 55), Churchman, Lees, Dennis, Sharp ( Spencer 64), Ryan.

Subs not used:

Ormson, Hancock, Lofthouse.

Wrexham line up:

Bachmann( Clarke 45), Carrington, Smith, White, Ashton, Harris( Tomassen 52), Evans( Keates 66), York, Jennings, Moult, Bishop.

Subs not used:

Bailey-Jones, Rushton

Attendance 1373.

Ian Brown



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