Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell confessed his disappointment, after his Wrexham side were held to a 1-1 side against Alfreton Town at the Racecourse.
A stunning first-half strike from Kevin Thornton was cancelled out by a Scott Boden tap-in after the break, but Wrexham retain their place at the top of the Blue Square Premier over Kidderminster Harriers via their superior goal difference.
Morrell conceded that his side must be winning their home games as the run in wears on, and the congestion at the top of the table gets ever tighter.
“Obviously you need to win your home games, but we’ve been doing great on the road”, said the 38-year old, “If you draw at Barrow and win here you’d probably take that. But it’s disappointing because we’ve had the majority of the game and haven’t been able to create enough good play to take the lead and keep the lead and given a sloppy goal away, and it costs you.”
Wrexham created a host of chances in a final flurry at the end of the game, but ran out of time to press it home.
“There was a good save by their ‘keeper from Dele, and then Keatesy on the penalty spot. I thought it was in, but he pulled it and it’s gone inches wide. That’s the way it is. If you win every game from now until the end of the season you deserve to go up, so, disappointing not to take 3 at home, but it’s a point on to the next.”
Whilst Morrell admits that The Dragons have ceded some of their advantage, he believes there remains plenty to play for with just four points separating the top five teams.
“It is a bit of a slip because you’ve got to win. To stay at the top you’ve got to win, but it’s not a major catastrophe. We’re probably going to have another 12 of those games – tight, bitty, not great. The pitch isn’t great which doesn’t help. But we’re trying, and giving everything. The lads’ effort is immense. We just weren’t quite creative enough to create that last little bit of quality to get us into the lead.
“But I think they’re happy with a point, they’ve come for a point and they’ll be delighted because they’re scrapping their lives – but so are Ebbsfleet, Lincoln and all these teams who are coming here to play us. We’ve just got to get onto the next one, get your heads up and go again.”
With eight of Wrexham’s last 12 league games to be played at home, Morrell acknowledged that there were concerns over the state of Racecourse pitch.
Asked whether it would act as a hindrance in the run-in, he answered “I think so. It’s gonna be hard. It’s dusty, and it’s a bit bleak and bobbly.”
“But I think a lot of pitches out there are the same because of the weather we’ve had. They’re trying their best, they’re trying to do everything they can to make it alright, but when you’ve got a bit of rugby on it and a few other games dotted about here and there it’s not easy for them to get a different surface, and it suits other teams that come here.”
The player-manager’s decision to withdraw the goalscorer Thornton in the final 10 minutes drew a ringing of boos around the ground, and Morrell was quick to defend the substition.
“I took Kev (Thornton) off to protect him as he’s not had a lot of games. We’ve got a lot of games coming up, but I thought he’d done great today. He scored a really good goal, and we need to keep him fresh because we’ve got a lot of games. Bringing Glen on, I thought he might be able to get on the ball and play a little bit. Ciss (Cieslewicz) was brought on to freshen it up up front and try and get that goal that we needed – and we nearly did, but not quite.”
“I’m just trying to win the game. Kev did great, I thought he was a bit tired and I took him off. It’s as simple as that. He’s got a big part to play in the run in. I want to get as many creative players on as I can but it can’t be to the detriment of going the other way and conceding. We have to keep our shape. I understand what the fans are on about, but we’re trying to still win the game. We had two or three chances at the end, I’m disappointed we didn’t take one.”
The draw played host to the full debuts of recent loan signings Dele Adebola and David Artell, and Morrell believes the pair will soon benefit from the rush of games to come.
“They’re going to get it (match fitness) because the games are coming thick and fast. A couple of times Dele did great, he won his headers and he’s a big, strong, powerful lad and they’re big, strong, powerful defenders. He won’t face that every week. Dave did his job well, we’ve brought him in to marshal the troops.”
As is Morrell’s motto; on to the next one. Ebbsfleet. Tuesday. The Racecourse.