I was spitting feathers for the last quarter of an hour of this match, and a good while afterwards, which isn’t like me. That’s the thing about miscarriages of justice: they wind folk up.
Andy Bishop’s second red card against Kidderminster this season was similar in some ways to what happened at Aggborough, as he was wound up once more by a very provocative Harriers side. However, his frustration did boil over last November; yesterday he did nothing.
I’m not saying you can’t argue that Bishop, knowing he’s on a yellow card, needed to be more careful. However, a more compelling argument is that if a player’s going to pull out of every challenge because they’re on a booking, they might as well get off the pitch.
Was Bishop’s challenge malicious? No.
Did he intend to foul his man? No.
Was the fouled player, Callum Gittins, hurt? Absolutely not.
Most referees would look at that challenge, recognise the player was on a yellow, and realise that the prudent thing to do would be to simply award the free kick, irrespective of the histrionics of cynical opposing players. Heck, most referees would look at that challenge and, irrespective of the player’s disciplinary status, simply award a free kick and leave it at that. But Carl and I had called the referee out in the first half of commentary, suspecting he was a character who was easily duped and liable to make a dramatic, silly decision in the second half. Sometimes it isn’t gratifying to be proven right.
Of course, Gittins should be utterly ashamed of himself, and perhaps what galls me more is knowing he absolutely isn’t. His exaggerated reaction got a fellow professional sent off, and the ugly swarm of Kidderminster players around the referee in injury time who tried to convince him to show Neil Ashton a second yellow shouldn’t be too proud of themselves either (although unlike the Bishop dismissal, in this case they actually had a point!) Still, what would you expect when Harriers’ skipper, Kyle Storer, has now spent 180 minutes against us haranguing the officials?. Wasn’t there a particularly scary X-Files episode about that most dangerous type of psychopath – a man with delusions of being a Skrill Premier referee? Chilling.
It’s an odd experience watching us play Kidderminster as I really like them as a club and I think their support is impressively passionate. The people I meet at Aggborough, in whatever role, are smashing, and there’s a lot to like about their style of play and many of their players. Yet there’s a chippy air about the current team which necessitates swilling out with copious amounts of Aggborough soup. What’s a nice boy like Cheesy doing in a team like that?
Oh yes, Cieslewicz! He tweeted before the match that he’d never been more up for a game, got a terrific reception from the Wrexham supporters, and set off on a few of those trademark surges which can still send a shiver down your spine, albeit one of apprehension rather than anticipation. He had a good game, although by the same token so did Ashton when the duo were in direct confrontation. One thing hasn’t changed though; once again his manager felt compelled to take him off before he’s completed the full ninety minutes. That round of applause he got might have had a little relief mixed into it as he was the visitors’ most threatening player.
Having said that, our back four looked solid again; they haven’t conceded since the Luton debacle and Andy Coughlin kept consecutive league clean sheets for the first time in his career. Although the whole back four did well, particularly Danny Livesey who continues to look like a canny acquisition, Coughlin certainly earned his shut-out. It was the exact opposite of his Hereford experience; there he could simply watch as, somewhere in the distance, Hereford tried to come forwards; here he made three fine saves, two of which were out of the top drawer. It seems unfeasible, but he looks like he’s grown a couple more inches again since playing for England C!
Equally unfeasible is the fact that, despite Harriers undoubtedly having more of the game and forcing Coughlin into those saves, Wrexham probably had more clear cut chances. Danny Lewis made a couple of fine saves himself, exhibiting excellent footwork to get back to shots which were arcing over his head. The first, to deny Mark Carrington’s first half chip, was good, the second, in injury time at the end of the match, not only earned a point but also denied Brett Ormerod a contender for goal of the season. Six inches more on that shot and we’d be contemplating a fine ten-man win and Billy Barr would be adding to his CV.
Wrexham (4-4-2): Coughlin; Tomassen, Livesey, Wright, Ashton; Carrington, Harris, Keates, Hunt (Ogleby 70); Bishop, Anyinsah (Ormerod 77). Unused subs: Mayebi, Artell, Evans.
Kidderminster (4-4-2): Lewis; L Vaughan, Gowling, Grimes, Demetriou; Cieslewicz (Jackson 85), Storer, Gittins, Jackman (O’Keefe 63); Malbon, Morgan-Smith Unused subs: N Vaughan, Bell, Rowe,
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: 3,159 Away: 289
Miscellaneous: Jay Harris made his two hundred and fiftieth career league appearance; Steven Wright made his fiftieth league appearance for Wrexham.
Wrexham Player Man of the Match: Steven Wright