Never mind parking the bus: getting it to the ground was a problem for Alfreton. Their performance was so far below par for most of the match that they might have wished the driver had turned tail and headed home.
Much of the game felt like an object lesson in why the traditional role for 4-4-2 has become obsolete as Alfreton played with three flat lines and Wrexham exploited the gaps between them.
Although Andy Bishop was rightly named as man of the match in all quarters, one couldn’t help feeling that Brett Ormerod also deserved some sort of accolade as he drifted constantly into the hole, exploiting the flat nature of Alfreton’s formation and caused terific problems with his movement and insight. By the time he was given a rest near the end he had two assists and had drawn some good saves from Alfreton’s outstanding keeper Ross Atkin.
After the game Chris Westwood, who also enjoyed a good game as he, the keeper and Nick Fenton seemed to battle Wrexham’s endless pressure on their own, said that his side had failed to change the shape of the match
as it progressed. Clearly he did not intend this as a criticism of his manager but it was certainly surprising that an innovative thinker like Nicky Law
hadn’t changed things sooner. Alfreton almost felt like their minds were still on the bus. They were sluggish, drawing constant admonition from their reporters sitting next to me. Dominated in midfield from the outset, they were regularly beaten to the second ball, lost 50-50 challenges constantly and were fortunate to only be two goals down when they got their penalty.
However that did spur them on to a brief renaissance. For ten minutes the tie was up in the air as Alfreton threatened for the first time in the match. It was partly down to their boost in confidence following Jake Speight’s penalty and also due to a belated tactical switch as they flattened their midfield into more of a diamond.
The result was they left themselves exposed to the counter attack on the flanks, which facilitated Morrell ending the game with the pacey wingers Cieslewicz and Bailey-Jones on either wing. Om the other hand, Alfreton began to plug the gaps between the lines and offered an extra body in midfield. Before then they had been outnumbered in the centre of the park as Wrexham’s familiar trio of Clarke, Harris and Keates had completely run the match.
Having said that on the balance of play it would have been a travesty if Alfreton had not been beaten. Logic was restored by Harris’ goal and it’s Wrexhm who rightly go into the second round draw.
Wrexham (4-3-3): Coughlin; Carrington, Artell, Wright, Ashton; Harris (Hunt 89), Keates, Clarke; Ormerod (Cieslewicz 86), Bishop, Ogleby (Bailey-Jones 76). Unused Subs: Mayebi, Tomassen, Creighton, Colbeck.
Alfreton Town (4-4-2): Atkin; Wood (Sam Akinde 90), Westwood, Fenton, Rowe-Turner; Shaw (Meadows 58), Bradley, McGrath, Law; Speight, John Akinde (Franklin 88). Unused subs: Kempson, Wylde.
Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 2,415 Away: 149
Miscellaneous: Wrexham’s first home win over Alfreton Town; Speight’s goal was the first Wrexham have conceded at home in 6 hours and 44 minutes.