Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
Our disciplinary record has undoubtedly been a problem this season, but against Halifax it came to a head.
Brett Ormerod’s sending off was the main – perhaps the only – talking point to come out of the game. When a manager comes out and criticises one of his players like Andy Morrell did after this match, you know they’ve stepped a long way out of line. Seven red cards in a season is a ridiculous tally, and Ormerod’s dismissal fell firmly in the “Let His Team Mates Down” column.
Ormerod often tends to get worked up into a righteous fury on the pitch. Usually he vents his spleen on the officials, and the rarity of his bookings – he got four last season and has just one this – suggests that he knows how to get crotchety without actually crossing the line. If that’s the case and he exerts pressure on the referee then maybe that’s part of being an old pro, but losing his temper and kicking an opponent as he lies at his feet, having already had a half-hearted go at him on the way down, is something else again.
Ormerod’s complaint that he’d been elbowed as he challenged for the ball seemed to owe its origins to the sense of injustice he’d built up over the previous ten seconds as he challenged for two earlier aerial balls. He convinced himself he’d been fouled each time and became increasingly furious as the referee ignored him. It felt like he’d worked himself into a state of high dudgeon and when the third challenge came he was waiting for an elbow before retaliating against a foul he’d convinced himself had happened.
There have been dismissed Wrexham players this season for whom you have to feel sympathy. Steven Wright has contributed two to the total, but the first – ironically against Halifax – was a harsh call as he tried to challenge a player who was about to score. Any defender worth his salt is going to make a tackle in that situation. His second, at the hands of Barnet supremo Edgar Davids, seemed to be for the heinous crime of hurting a celebrity’s elbow with his face.
The other red cards have been less easy to justify. Jay Harris was always going to walk at Luton when he legged a man over on a yellow card and his dismissal against Hyde was similar to Ormerod’s. Johnny Hunt’s foul at Barnet was a horrible example of an occasion getting to a player, as, to a lesser extent, was Andy Bishop’s at Kidderminster.
In total, Wrexham players have missed eighteen games this season through suspension: Harris alone has missed six matches out of thirty two. That’s virtually every fifth match as a result of his disciplinary record! With a thinner squad than we’ve enjoyed in recent years, and carrying some players who are prone to injury, having such a poor record with the refs will be the straw which breaks the play-off camel’s back.