Well, that was impressive! Billy Barr will no doubt be a little frustrated that this performance came after the decision seems to have been made about the identity of the next manager as this would have complemented his application nicely.
Admittedly Hereford are the team one would want to be playing right now (although between our two matches they’ve drawn all three games, including away to Braintree and Grimsby). However, they are clearly suffering, and frankly ought to have been beaten by a great deal more than this. Wrexham’s finishing was woeful at times.
The performance was anything but. Barr sensibly switched back to the familiarity of 4-3-3, having seen that the 4-4-2 experiment had run its course, probably damaging his chances of getting the job full time terminally in the process. However, it wasn’t quite the 4-3-3 we saw develop under Dean Saunders and Andy Morrell. Helped by a slick pitch it was more fluid and Wrexham passed the ball confidently and exchanged positions smoothly.
Johnny Hunt sat a little deeper on the left of attack, Dean Keates took up advanced midfield postions and often drifted into the pockets of space Hunt created on the left, and Carrington came inside more than he has done previously. With Brett Ormerod and Rob Ogleby energetically occupying the centre backs, Ogleby narrow on the right to almost make a hybrid between a front two and a three-pronged attack, we asked new questions of our opponents.
All this was made possible by our monopoly of possession, which in turn was made possible by Hereford’s inability to pressure us. Their 4-2-3-1 malfunctioned, the midfield two forced too deep and dragging the second line with them, leaving the sole striker, Sam Smith, isolated.
Camped in their half, our midfielders could pass the ball with confidence, movement created holes which could be exploited as there were players on hand to run into them and the passes required didn’t have to travel over a long distance. Keates benefitted most from this, of course: give him space in the opposing half and lots of movement in front of him and he’ll hurt a side.
Of course, a very big asterisk needs to be put alongside this result. Hereford, I’m afraid, looked as demoralised and weak as they did three weeks ago. I take no pleasure from that: the problems they are currently experiencing off the pitch are similar to those we are very familiar to, and after the game Martin Foyle told the press that all the current squad would be released in the Summer. Unsurprisingly, he announced his departure soon afterwards. A couple of people have responding to that announcement by suggesting we should see which United players we could cherry-pick, but I’m not sure any of them have convinced me they’d be of any value to us beyond Daniel Leadbitter, who looked lively down the flanks at Edgar Street.
Hereford were there for the taking, and even though we were extremely lax in front of goal, we still profited and ran out easy winners. The natural sense of optimism after a fluent display which ought to have been rewarded by a wider margin of victory needs to be tempered by accepting that the only times we’ve merited a win in our last nine matches were against a side as beleaguered as the Bulls.
Wrexham (4-3-3): Coughlin; Carrington, Livesey, Wright, Ashton; Clarke, Keates (Evans 84), Harris; Ogleby (Reynolds 90+2), Ormerod (Anyinsah 90), Hunt Unused subs: Mayebi, Artell
Hereford United (4-2-3-1) Lloyd-Weston; Collins, McDonald, Graham, Bush; James (Purdie 81), Edds (Williams 66); Brown, Sharp, Walker; Smith (Pilkington 79) Unused subs Moore, Murphy
Wrexham Player Man of the Match: Dean Keates