Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell refused to get carried away in light of Wrexham’s 3-1 victory in the FA Trophy semi-final first-leg over Gainsborough Trinity. A stoppage time strike from defender Neil Ashton gave Wrexham a decisive two goal lead to take into the second leg next weekend.
‘A win’s a win, maybe we could have scored a few more and been out of sight, but not to be’, said Morrell after the game, ‘We obviously knew it was going to be a tough game, but at least we’ve got a lead to take down there. We’ve got to make sure we’re a bit more clinical next week. But it’s at the back of our minds now and off to Gateshead we go.’
‘It was a massive game for them, and a massive one for us. They were always going to come out of the traps, they’ve got threats – we knew that – and we started the game really brightly. After 20-25 minutes we could have been maybe 3 or 4 up. And then we go and concede a sloppy goal, we don’t stop the cross – the guy pulls off one of our men and heads it in, it rocks us a little bit, our composure goes and I’m not sure why.’
After taking a 19th minute lead through Danny Wright, Wrexham squandered a number of opportunities to double their advantage, only to be pegged back by the visiting side within just 8 minutes. But in the second half they made their superiority show.
‘Second half we knew they would tire and that’s the way it turned out. I was pleased to get the second goal, which put them on the back foot, and we could have gone on to score a couple more but their keeper’s played well and they were dogged right across the pitch.’
‘They’re going to have to come out and score a goal against us, which may suit us a little bit away from home. Our away form’s good, so we go there in good confidence, another win, 12 unbeaten now and on we go.’
‘We’ve just said in there it’s only half the job. We’ve put one foot forward and I’ve just told them, back of the minds now, trophy’s gone. We’ve got, for me, bigger fish to fry on Tuesday night. We need to go and get something up in Gateshead to put the pressure on everybody in our league.’
The Wrexham player-manager had made two changes from the side that beat Hereford in midweek, with Declan Walker enduring a difficult afternoon in place of Stephen Wright at right-back. Morrell claimed his presence in the starting eleven was merely a ploy to rest Wright, who has only recently returned from an injury lay-off.
‘It was just precautionary really. Wrighty’s been out for a while and he’s played two games on bad pitches. We’ve got a lot of games coming up and three games in a week on bad pitches is a lot to take. I felt it was right to do and Declan Walker would give us a bit more energy down that side.
‘He did ok, he should have stopped the cross for their goal, but he’s a young lad and he’s learning his game still.’
The afternoon’s 3-1 victory was facilitated by the introduction of Adrian Cieslewicz on the hour mark, who scored Wrexham’s second goal and caused a number of problems down the right wing.
‘He’s got that, he’s a great sub to have’, gushed Morrell, ‘He’s got something that we haven’t got. When you put him on and the game’s stretched, he can go and cause all sorts of problems. He’s still got things to learn, without the ball, but we’re trying to get it into him. I want him to start games and do that for whole games. I don’t know what it is with him. But we’ll keep at him, he’s got a big future I think if he can take stuff on board quickly.’
Morrell was at pains to stress that he is now fully concentrated on the trip north to Gateshead on Tuesday, with his side level at the top of the Blue Square Premier, but commented that Wrexham will need to be at the top of their game to nullify Gainsborough’s threat next Saturday.
‘The first goal will be crucial and we’ve been starting games well at the minute, right on the front foot, and if we can do that down there we can take the wind out of their sails. They’re gonna be coming at us, Darryn Stamp up top is a handful and Craig Nelthorpe has really good quality with his left foot so we’ve got to be ready and waiting. But we’ve got a big game before that.’