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The Rule of Law: Wrexham Report

By: Mike Worden
Date: 07/03/2004

THE last time that Grimsby played at Wrexham, Town fans were swapping advice about the best route down to Wembley, Alan Buckley was jumping up and down in the dug out and Wayne Burnett dominated the game. How things change.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Wrexham (a)

The Racecourse

Now after some ups and downs and of late, more downs than up, Town returned to the Racecourse looking for a good start to their latest manager’s reign. The Nicky Law era. A sort of uncertain era. A sort of performance related era, as the Chairman might describe it.

Denis Smith has put together a useful side which would be looking to repeat the recent victory over the Mariners. Just to make us feel at home the match programme included a full colour centre spread of the recent 6-0 defeat by Bournemouth. See we are not the only team who gets a serious thrashing away from home. The programme also included a photograph of a youthful looking Bobby Roberts. Whatever happened to him?

Warming up was led by Paul Mitchell with Graham Rodger on ‘setting out the cone’ duties. The purple clad town players ran, jogged and stretched in the spring sunshine. Exercises included that one where the players run across each other’s path in a sort of ‘Red Arrows’ type display. Imagine Crane and Mansaram hitting each other at speed? Imagine Crane and Mansaram at speed.

When the teams came out for the kick off, the ground seemed very empty. Huge expanses of red seats were dominant and huge gaps were visible on the home end terrace (the town end of the ground). Appropriately Wrexham are sponsored by ‘Gap’, the recruitment consultancy, not the clothes firm.

Town lined up with another back four combination of Barnard, Crane, Armstrong and Edwards, Hamilton, Jevons, Campbell and Daws in midfield and Thorpe and Mansaram up front. With two Armstrongs and three Edwards’ on the pitch things must have been confusing for commentators. Anyway to keep it simple, Armstrong was marking Armstrong and Edwards was marking the tall Edwards.

Wrexham kicked off towards the 200 or so Town fans located in the upper section of the Roberts Builders Stand, a rather drab and dated structure.

At first the game was relatively even with perhaps Town slightly on top. Mansaram won a corner from which Hamilton blasted the ball over the goal. Daws then did the same a little later. From another corner Dibble in the Wrexham goal collected easily. Another Barnard corner was cleared.

Towards the half way stage of the first half, Wrexham began to threaten more. Paul Edwards had been causing Mike Edwards problems on the flank. After 22 minutes Pettinger had to make a good save at the near post from Chris Armstrong.

On 24 minutes Craig Armstrong took a knock and had to be replaced by Greg Young who slotted in alongside Crane. Young had so much white tape around his ankles that he looked like he was wearing different socks to the rest of the team. It wasn’t all Wrexham, Daws had a long range shot easily saved by Dibble, but the Welshman were threatening and the Town defence didn’t exactly look up for the challenge.

And so the inevitable happened. After some good passing in and around the box, but which the Town defence should have broken down, Matty Crowell picked up the ball and hit a left foot shot past Pettinger and into the top corner. 33 mins on the clock, Wrexham 1, Grimsby 0.

And did we expect the ‘new’ Grimsby to come back fighting? No chance. The game was effectively over just three minutes later when Chris Armstrong scored two goals in a less than a minute. As Bournemouth did to Wrexham, so Wrexham did to us. Mistakes made in the Town defence and midfield handed him two goals. For his first he broke through from a Darren Ferguson pass and one on one beat Pettinger. For his second, Wrexham broke down the right and he met the pass and easily beat the young keeper.

Armstrong wound up the Town fans, rubbing his sides with laughter.

We may be in post Groves days, but the story remains the same. Town concede one, they concede a hatful. 36 minutes into his managerial career with Town, the first shout of ‘Sort it out Law’ was heard drifting towards the dugout. The man himself seemed quite motionless standing in front of the dugout, hand to mouth, trying to take in what he had just witnessed.

Just before half time, Daws defended well right in front of goal as Wrexham threatened a fourth. Half time arrived and Law and Rodger walked off to the tunnel together in conversation.

No changes for Town at half time as they kicked off towards their fans. Two minutes into the half, a Campbell shot rattled the crossbar and bounced down the wrong side of the line. Not even a Russian linesman would have been able to give that one. Maybe if that had gone in, we would have gone on to win 4-3 in a Man City sort of way. Maybe.

Town were having a reasonable spell, relatively speaking of course. Barnard had a good shot from close range which Dibble saved, but the resulting corner was wasted. Soames replaced Mansaram to the pleasure of the travelling support. Town had a few good moves one where Thorpe played a good pass to Jevons, but the Umbro Isotonic Golden Boot winner turned round and passed instead of going for goal. Hamilton had a shot. Barnard hit a free kick over the bar.

Around the 30 minute mark Thorpe injured his left ankle. Whilst he was being treated Law called over Edwards and Crane to pass on some advice. Thorpe hobbled off and was replaced by Hockless whose appearance had been called for by the Town fans for some time. Hockless seemed to have some urgency about him.

In the last period of the game, Barnard wasted another free kick and Daws hit a high back pass type of shot into Dibble’s arms. Near the end Hockless had a good shot saved by Dibble.

And so it ended quietly. The players trooped off. Another town, another defeat.

Town’s dismal away record continues, and worryingly so does the tendency to leak goals easily in a short space of time. Town failed to do the simple thing, to break moves down, to clear the ball effectively and to pass to each other on the ground.

Peter Furneaux said this week that Nicky Law breathes success. He needs to breath on us as a matter of urgency. The patient is in need of resuscitation.

Town: Pettinger, Barnard, Crane, Armstrong (Young), Edwards; Jevons, Campbell, Daws, Hamilton; Thorpe (Hockless), Mansaram (Soames)

Subs (not used) Parker, Bolder

Referee: Mr B Curson

Attendance: 3,127.

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