Wrexham were made to toil by lowly Solihull Moors as they progressed to the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy with a scrappy 3-2 victory at the Racecourse. Having gone behind twice in the game, goals from Brett Ormerod, Adrian Cieslewicz and a contentious Dean Keates penalty spared the Conference Premier outfit’s blushes.
Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell named a strong side for this FA Trophy second-round clash, and could have been forgiven for expecting a routine victory against a side straddling the middle echelons of the Conference North division. But a near full-strength side made a sluggish start to proceedings.
Rob Ogleby, promoted to the starting eleven after an impressive cameo performance against Nuneaton Town last weekend, headed wide after 10 minutes, shortly before being stretchered off following a clash of heads with Solihull captain Danny Spencer. Spencer, sporting a bandaged forehead, returned to the pitch whilst the concussed Ogleby made way for Cieslewicz, who carved out two goal-scoring opportunities within minutes, but failed to overly test Solihull goalkeeper, Jasbir Singh.
This was symptomatic of Wrexham’s play in the opening 45 minutes; full of endeavour, but lacking in urgency and creativity. The visitors were content to let Wrexham pass the ball around in front of midfield and sit behind the ball. The first moment of imagination arrived after a sterile opening 35 minutes when centre-half Danny Devine surged through midfield, exchanged a one-two with Brett Ormerod in the opposition’s penalty area before screwing his shot wastefully wide of goal.
Wrexham should have taken the lead and were made to pay for their profligacy just two minutes later as Solihull’s Junior English unleashed a venomous strike at goal that sailed into Andy Coughlin’s bottom left-hand corner. A bolt from the blue, but it stung the home side into action and they found themselves level just before half-time.
The industrious Jay Harris sped away from 2 Solihull players before feeding Brett Ormerod, who spun round his marker and prodded the ball past the onrushing Singh. An equaliser on the stroke of half-time seemed to have spared the home side’s blushes, but any thoughts that they would turn the second-half into a procession were dispelled 12 minutes from the restart.
The visitors reclaimed the lead after Wrexham failed to deal with a succession of corner kicks. The first corner was nodded on by Gary Birch, who forced Coughlin into a sprawling save. The resultant corner proved to be almost a carbon copy of the first, but Wrexham, failing to heed that warning, paid the price when English applied the finishing touch to a Danny Spencer knock-down.
Solihull’s hard-fought lead lasted barely three minutes; as delighted as they would have been to take the lead twice, the visiting manager was visibly frustrated at conceding soon after. To their credit, however, there was nothing they could do about the home side’s equaliser, especially the approach play between Ormerod and Joe Clarke, who supplied Cieslewicz with a point-blank finish from six yards.
Wrexham used the second equaliser as a springboard and found themselves ahead for the first time in the game soon after. Adrian Cieslewicz was this time the architect, springing a counter-attack and threading a through-ball into Andy Morrell’s path inside the penalty area, who was hauled down by the onrushing Singh. With customary custodian Neil Ashton rested, captain Dean Keates stepped up and slotted cooly into the bottom corner.
Having wrested the initiative from their lowly opposition, Wrexham hoped to finish off their opponent’s resistance, but once again found themselves on the back-foot. Continually surrendering possession and camped inside their own half, the Blue Square Premier challengers appeared determined to hang on to their slender advantage as the clock ticked down.
In a nervy finale, Wrexham just about held on to their lead and progressed to the draw for the Third Round. Solihull Moors were a credit to their division; hard-working, resolute and purposeful, they just lacked the cutting edge to push their more illustrious opponents into a replay.
Wrexham now look forward to the draw for the next round on Monday afternoon, whilst attention now switches back to the league and a top-of-the-table clash at Grimsby Town on Friday evening.
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