16th September 2000: Nationwide League Division Two
|Colchester United 1||Wrexham 1|
|(Lock 63)||(Sam 12)|
Red Card Turns Tide Against Impressive Reds
A crazy seven minute spell at the start of the second half turned this game on its head, denying Wrexham what was shaping up to be a comfortabe win which would have stretched the club’s run of away victories to six. Leading through yet another Hector Sam strike, the controversial sending off of Dave Ridler and its repercussions cost Wrexham the initiative and ultimately victory. The defender was dismissed after an off-the ball incident with Karl Duguid, the Colchester striker falling down holding his face shortly after the duo had been involved in a tussle in the Wrexham area. The referee seemed at first to ignore the incident, then called Ridler over and sent him off, while Duguid made a suspiciously swift recovery. Four minutes later Faulconbridge missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0, shooting straight at the goalkeeper when Chalk had found him alone in the area, and a further three minutes on, Colchester had equalised and the nature of the game had altered radically.
Wrexham’s superiority was evident from the outset, with Ferguson placing a twenty yard free kick narrowly wide of the left post within ninety seconds of kick off. United were defending suicidally high up the pitch, inviting Sam to capitalise, and he did after twelve minutes, Edwards producing a cross from the right which Sam raced onto before placing a sublime header into the top right corner from ten yards with Brown rooted to the spot.
Edwards relished the space he was being afforded down the right and provided a steady stream of crosses, with Faulconbridge going agonisingly close to heading one in from six yards. Faulconbridge also came close with his head soon afterwards, when Roche hoisted a high ball into the box which Brown came for but was beaten to, the ball floating just wide of the open goal. Brown’s unconvincing afternoon continued when he hit a backpass against Chalk’s back and was endebted to Tanner for tackling Faulconbridge as they raced for the loose ball before the unguarded net. At least Brown was able to cling onto a twenty-yard drive from the busy Chalk as the Reds continued to dominate.
United’s only threatening moments in the first half had come at its extremities. Shortly before Sam’s goal Stockwell picked up a deep cross at the far post and hit a volley from an acute angle which Carey headed off the line, straight back to Stockwell whose cross was astonishingly volleyed over an open goal from six yards by Lock. Their only other noteworthy attack came in injury time, again from Stockwell as he worked a 1-2 with Duguid and hit a rasping drive which Kevin Dearden, back in goal instead of Rogers, tipped over acrobatically.
Wrexham restarted with their control of the match intact. Ferguson bossed midfield, with Barrett and Chalk impressively industrious either side of him, while Sam and Faulconbridge were a constant threat. Sam opened the half with a powerful drive which Brown fumbled, then Barrett whipped in a delicious cross which evaded the defence and fell to Faulconbridge six yards out. Unsighted, and therefore unable to react quickly enough to shoot, he pulled the ball back for Sam, who couldn’t quite get enough purchase on his header to trouble the goalkeeper.
Then the sky fell in, with Ridler’s dismissal and Faulconbridge’s crucial miss. United gathered some momentum in the wake of these incidents and equalised following some intense pressure, Dearden saving from Keeble, and then from Duguid when the ball was crossed back in, but unable to stop Lock from ramming the rebound into the empty net. Wrexham still threatened, though, despite the withdrawal of Sam to allow Steven Roberts to slot in at the back. Edwards, who himself was later also sacrificed as the visitors consolidated, intercepted a sloppy Clark pass and drove a shot which took a slight deflection before being brilliantly tipped round the post by Brown.
However, Colchester were able to capitalise on their numerical advantage and finish strongly, with McGavin a particular threat down the left. When Dearden failed to come out for a cross he picked the ball up and beat two men before shooting straight at the keeper, and in the last ten minutes he produced two dangerous crosses, only to see Lock head the first over and then strike the other too straight. Barring a late save by Dearden, blocking a Duguid shot with his feet when the striker had turned Carey in the box, United could muster no more, and Wrexham were threatening on the break. It would have been a travesty if they had come away empty handed, but the disappointment of the players after the match revealed that this was a game they knew they could have won.
WREXHAM (4-4-2): Dearden; Roche, Carey (c), Ridler, McGregor; Edwards (Gibson 72), Ferguson, Barrett, Chalk; Faulconbridge, Sam (Roberts 58). UNUSED SUBS: Walsh, Killen, Owen.
COLCHESTER UNITED(3-5-2): Brown; White, Tanner (Keith 87), Clark; Gregory (Keeble 39),Stockwell, Dozzell, McGavin, G. Johnson; Duguid, Lock. UNUSED SUBS: Walker, Okafor, Hearn.
Referee: P. Joslin (Notts)
|–||Duguid (Persistent fouling, 87)|
|Ridler (Elbowed Duguid off the ball, 56)|
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