First things first: don’t panic. Having watched the DVD of the game, this wasn’t as bad as it sounded.
I couldn’t make it to the game, and listening in from a distance I shared the general concern at the result. However, I find It’s natural to over-react when your team loses and you didn’t see it, and this is one of those occasions. We were genuinely unlucky to lose this game.
I don’t want to seem an apologist. I want to say the result was a one-off, but as we’ve had a few frustrating experiences this season, I accept that logic means I shouldn’t make that claim. However, there was little sign that the roof was going to cave in before it actually did in the last ten minutes.
Recent defeats have followed a more consistent pattern. We’ve defended shakily and the inevitable has happened: in fact, the inevitable started happening a lot earlier than it did in this case: apart from our three wins of the season, there have been just two games where we haven’t conceded in the first half.
This time we simply looked like we were seeing out a 1-0 win quite comfortably when we failed to defend two fairly straightforward situations.
Until then, we hardly hit the heights we managed over the last two seasons, but we were comfortable. Brett Ormerod and Theo Bailey-Jones didn’t really threaten, although Ormerod was impressively clever when he set up Joe Anyinsah’s well taken goal, and the striker took it well and continues to exhibit early promise. However, in a drab game we weren’t troubled and it looked like we were going to eke out a win without too many alarms.
The problem is that we’re not defending well this season. Having looked sound for the first 80 minutes, reality then kicked in and we reverted to type, failing to defend two straightforward balls into the box.
We’d looked very comfortable until a ball came in from the right: David Artell gave Dan Flitchett an inch and he took a goal. The winner was highly unfortunate: firstly the free kick it came from looked 50-50 at best; then Angus MacDonald went and chose that very moment to enjoy the greatest moment in his career, an overhead backheel which was either a moment of utter genius or a complete fluke. If it was the former it deserves more hits on youtube than that blinking parachutist.
You couldn’t help but feel for Andy Coughlin, brought in to replace the unreliable Mayebi and helpless to prevent either goal. A remarkable clearance off the line from an Andy Bishop shot in injury time, remarkable partly because it was an agile piece of work, but more because the defender really had no logical business to be there in the first place, just put the tin hat on it.
But looking at it from a distance made it feel worse than it was. We’ve started to develop a sense of entitlement which we didn’t have when we first arrived in the Conference with our tails between our legs, presumably because we’ve been spoiled by the last two years. Yet we should take a step back to look at this result; everyone wants to see it as a defeat to lowly opposition, but you could spin it the other way and see it as a difficult away match against a side who are one point off second place which we deserved to win were it not for a late meltdown which came out of nowhere.
It was simply a bit of a mugging, eerily following the pattern of the horrible defeat Arsenal suffered at The Racecourse in 1992…and look where they are now!
Salisbury City (4-5-1): Puddy; MacDonald, Wilson, Clarke, Brett; Kamdjo (Wright 46), Lewis, S.Sinclair, McPhee (Storey 72), Frear; Fitchett (Dutton 84). Unused subs: Hart, Feeney.
Wrexham (4-4-2): Coughlin; Carrington, Artell, CLowes, Ashton; Bailey-Jones (Cieslewicz 78), Evans, Clarke, Hunt; Ormerod (Bishop 66), Anyinsah (Ogleby 78). Unused subs: Mayebi, Royle.