The relief was palpable. A scrappy 3-1 win victory on, what Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell described as, a ‘pudding of a pitch’ rebooted The Dragons’ promotion charge. Consecutive draws with Southport and Forest Green Rovers had temporarily stymied the flow of points, but goals from Joe Clarke, Danny Wright and Rob Ogleby ensured a return to winning ways for Morrell and his team.
It was far from easy after an unlikely second half onslaught from a Stockport County side who appeared so lethargic in the first 45.
‘It was difficult I know that’, said Morrell, ‘I thought first half we were really good and deserved our lead, there probably could have been a couple more as well if we’d have taken our chances. But second half for 20-25 minutes we got outplayed, and I haven’t said that very often.
‘They were great, and we just couldn’t keep the ball, we couldn’t get out. But we dug in and managed to see that through, and I always felt we were going to get chances against them, with the threats that we pose. That turned out to be the case. We were good with our set-pieces, our delivery was good today. I felt it was game over when we managed to get the second.’
The rear-guard resilience from a Wrexham defence that has been extraordinarily leaky at home this season was the bedrock of the victory. Morrell admitted, too, that the Racecourse pitch demanded a different type of performance from his side.
‘You’ve seen the pitch, it’s certainly not a ‘Forest Green’, but you’ve got to play to the conditions. I said before the game how we apply ourselves on there will determine whether we win or lose, and I thought first-half we applied ourselves well, but second half we were all over the place. But we still dug in, and we’ve come away with a good win.’
The Wrexham player-manager refused to be drawn on some of the farcical refereeing decisions, and the protestations of the visiting side, who felt they were denied at least three penalty kicks and had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. Morrell preferred to concentrate at his own side’s performance, than that of the man in black.
‘We couldn’t keep the ball. We were working hard to get it back, and when we did we just gave it back to them. When you do that you can’t get up the pitch and you can’t get out. That was mainly the problem. They had four across the middle and that extra man they made count in the second half. First half we got our full-backs out and were comfortable.
‘There are things to work on, things to watch. I’ll go over it again. I’m disappointed obviously to concede so late on again, but if you’d have given me three points before the game I’d probably have taken it.’
‘Maxi made a couple of good saves in the second half. I think they’ll probably be a little bit disappointed not to come out with anything, but it’s signs of a good team to win when not playing great. For 25 minutes of a 90 minute game we weren’t great.’
‘We’ve said after that we’ll drop points to worse teams than them. I think they’re in a bit of a false position down there, they’ve got some really good footballers in their team. So let’s crack on, we’ve got three points and a game on Tuesday.’
With just 16 league games remaining this season, The Dragons are well placed and have embarked upon an 8-game unbeaten league run. Each side fighting for promotion has struggled to find consistency this season, and just as Wrexham look to be finding a semblance of form, so too are Grimsby Town, unbeaten in the Conference Premier since October and three points clear at the summit.
‘I’ve talked about consistency and trying to stay unbeaten if we can. We now go to Hereford, who beat us here, and I never like losing against the same team twice. It’s going to be a tough trip down there, we’ll have to dig in again and recover right from this game because that pitch took a lot out of us.’
‘We can only affect ourselves and the more games we win the better chance we’ve got of going up. We’ve got to keep on winning. If we can be the one to keep the run together then we’ve got every chance of getting out of the division.’
Brett Ormerod was sidelined for the game today with a minor thigh injury, but Morrell believes the veteran striker should be available for the midweek trip to Hereford.
‘Brett felt his thigh on Thursday, and again on Friday. We’ve got too many important games coming up to risk him in one game on a pudding of a pitch. If you’re out for three weeks at this stage of the season you end up missing seven or eight games. I’m hoping with a weekend of treatment he’ll be ok for Tuesday.’