A youthful Wrexham suffered their first home league defeat since November, as they succumbed 2-1 to new league leaders Kidderminster Harriers. Goals from James Vincent and Michael Gash, either side of a spectacular Danny Wright volley for the home side, ensured the Harriers have kept alive their hopes of claiming the league title, and the automatic promotion prize that comes with it.
The Dragons had made three changes from the 1-0 midweek victory over Cambridge United. Goalscorer Jay Colbeck was relegated to the bench, with Rob Evans promoted to the starting lineup after his impressive second half cameo. Danny Wright and Johnny Hunt returned to the staring eleven, deputising for the injured duo Adrian Cieslewicz and Kevin Thornton.
After a lacklustre opening 10 minutes, Wrexham were forced into an early change with Nick Rushton departing straight down the tunnel for treatment and being replaced by 17-year old Bradley Reid for his first league appearance for the club.
But it was the away side and title chasers Kidderminster who broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. James Vincent, having drawn a foul from Dave Artell just on the edge of the Wrexham penalty area, followed up Anthony Malbon’s blocked effort with a low 20-yard drive into the far bottom corner of Chris Maxwell’s goal.
It was the least Kidderminster deserved for a controlled and assured first-half display, which looked to contain a weakened Wrexham rather than exploit its deficiencies. Wrexham’s attacking threats were reduced to wayward efforts from youngsters Reid and Evans in a disjointed first-half display.
Wrexham came out for the second 45 with greater resolve, and though Kidderminster continued to dictate terms the home side were finally able to work opposition goalkeeper Danny Lewis, who saved well with his legs from a near post Danny Wright shot in the 53rd minute.
But Wright was not to be denied a second time, and when a Rob Evans effort deflected into his path in the 62nd minute on the edge of the penalty area, the Wrexham striker unleashed a devastating first-time right foot volley which flew past a rooted Lewis.
The home crowd were sparked into life, but their joy was short lived when Harriers restored their advantage nine minutes later. Kidderminster defender Mickey Demetriou, a constant thorn down Wrexham’s right hand side, punished a high defensive line by feeding Mark Gash who launched an audacious chip over Chris Maxwell from 30 yards out.
It was a goal fitting to win any game of football; that it was one to keep alive Harriers’ title chances, just hours after Mansfield’s defeat at Braintree, gave the finish added significance.
Whilst victory for the Harriers ensured their chances of automatic promotion will go to the final day of the season, Wrexham’s first home defeat since November 10th has seen the FA Trophy winners fall five points behind third placed Newport County.
With Braintree travelling to the Racecourse on Tuesday, before Wrexham look to spoil Mansfield’s promotion party next Saturday, time is running out for the Dragons to build momentum ahead of the play offs.
Though two youthful and experimental lineups have performed assuredly against Cambridge United and Kidderminster, Andy Morrell will be only too keen to welcome back the more experienced heads as he looks to finally guide Wrexham through a successful play-off campaign.