I posed three questions this morning: what were the answers?
Can we cope without Jay Harris? Well, up to a point we did. Our midfield were in control of the game for most of the first half, with Joe Clarke and Robbie Evans particularly prominent. The second half was a different matter as Nuneaton went long and put us under more direct pressure, but whether Harris would have been able to make any difference to the situation is doubtful. Midfield was simply bypassed.
In terms of the lack of fight we exhibited for much of the last two games, you certainly couldn’t level that accusation at us today as this was much better than the Lincoln and Chester games. Admittedly that’s not really saying much, but it was a step in the right direction. Having said that, Harris’ return on Friday can’t come soon enough.
How thin is our squad? We knew the answer already really, didn’t we? At least Adrian Cieslewicz, who was by far the liveliest of our strikers, was back in the squad, but still, there are areas of the team which look thin, and Andy Morrell’s choices off the bench were rather limited today. Quite how Theo Bailey-Jones, who has yet to break into the sixteen, must view things would be revealing!
Will A Tough Challenge Inspire or Intimidate us? We didn’t wilt, and as I said earlier we were the better side when the game was played on our terms. Our defeat wasn’t down to a lack of character, but it was a little worrying how vulnerable we were once the game changed and Nuneaton started turning our defence with more direct balls over the top.
My Dad’s always concerned by how big the oppostion is, regularly pointing it out before matches, whether it’s Wrexham playing or my lad for Coedpoeth Under-16s. I don’t always subscribe to that view, but his concerns before Wrexham games this season are certainly merited. We struggled to defend set pieces because there was a considerable height discrepancy between us and Nuneaton, and the direct balls worked because their two strikers were big and mobile. Admirable as Neil Ashton is, he simply couldn’t win many balls in the air because of the scale of the players he was challenging. And I should point ought that although they were equipped to play that way, Nuneaton certainly weren’t a long ball team. They are a side who can mix it up and were tactically adroit enough to change their emphasis and turn the game around. By way of contrast, we look a little one-dimensional: we have a particularly approach that we like to adopt and when the game doesn’t go that way, we look uncomfortable. We no longer have a Danny Wright to act as an aerial out ball – Andy Bishop really wasn’t much of a hindrance to Nuneaton’s big centre backs when the ball was in the air-and Jos Mayebi is an inacurate kicker unless putting the ball on Cieslewicz’s head is a deliberate strategy!
So there were some genuine improvements at Liberty Way, but the team still looks a long way from gelling and we’ve still to put in a consistent ninety minutes. Perhaps a clash with our old friends on Friday will focus a few minds!
Nuneaton Town (4-4-2): Belshaw; Streete, Dean, Cowan, McNamee (Gordon 89); York (Taylor 90), Armson, Walker, Sleath; Brown, Moult. Unused subs: M Bell, Pearson, Adams.
Wrexham (4-3-3): Mayebi; Tomassen, Clowes, Ashton, Hunt; Evans, Clarke, Thornton (Morrell 78); Anyinsah (Cieslewicz 15), Bishop, Ormerod. Unused subs: Coughlin, Royle, Ntame.
Referee: Paul Rees
Supporters Association Man of the Match: Neil Ashton