Anyone who knows me will be aware that I’m not one to jump straight into rash judgements. I’m inclined to take a more cautious look at things, and hope I’m pretty measured – albeit perhaps a little conservative in my judgement.
Therefore it’s with due consideration that I say that, bearing in mind the lack of coherent play, low quality of opposition and constant stream of errors spread throughout the side, I think thiswas the worst Wrexham performance I’ve ever seen. As my co-commentator, Carl Hogan, said yesterday, we’d have been thrashed were it not for the fact that Lincoln aren’t actually very good.
I was one of the minority who thought the derby wasn’t too bad: okay, the quality wasn’t there,but it was a derby against a side fighting for its life and we could easily have won it at the end. This was very different. After a bright opening we had nothing, and never looked like rousing ourselves. Carl named Joe Williams as our man of the match, and I agree: that sums it up as a kid coming on for the last thirty minutes and making a decent fist of holding off an experienced centre back despite getting very little service emerged with more credit than those who accumulated mistakes throughout the ninety minutes.
The nature of the goal we conceded was horrible. Lincoln, who I ought to stress dominated the game and were more than worthy winners, nevertheless betrayed their lack of quality by only managing one goal, and that was a long range free kick which the application of the most basic of defensive principles would have prevented. That was possibly the low point of what was a miserable display: that City were allowed such an awful goal. Plainly Danny Rowe was going to shoot as his run-up and the lack of targets in the box betrayed his intentions. Any doubt in his mind would have been erased when he saw that, incredibly, we had decided a one-man wall would suffice. That we should neglect such a football basic genuinely vexes and troubles me. Do we really need Dean Keates to be out there to tell us to do the basics? The goalkeeper is responsible for the organisation of a set piece, and Joslain Mayebi gave the impression, both with his lack of organisation and the lackadaisical way he went after Rowe’s shot, that his mind was elsewhere.
We’d lost control of the midfield by then, Lincoln’s diamond offering them a man over in the middle of the pitch. It would be profoundly unfair to make any kind of judgement of Kevin Wilkin this season as he is merely assessing his options. However, it’s interesting to note that in his Wrexham career so far he hasn’t tended to be one to change shape if things aren’t going his way. Unlike Dean Saunders and Andy Morrell, who were inclined to make sometimes radical alterations to their initial gameplans in-game, Wilkin has stuck to his guns in such circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see if this policy continues next season when he has more options; certainly he switched approach with decisive results when Wrexham played at Nuneaton earlier this season.
The goal led to a spectacular deterioration in Wrexham’s confidence and performance. We made the pitch look rutted and rock-hard as we struggled to tame the ball, yet it didn’t present the same problems to the visitors. All over the pitch you could see players making errors as their confidence ebbed or they tried too hard to get things going: while on the one hand you had to admire Neil Ashton’s desire to roll his sleeves up and try to get a grip on the game, the way he kept popping up in unexpected parts of the pitch smacked of a desperation to turn things round which compromised the way the side was set up rather than an approach which might bear fruit. Having said that, when the team’s set-up is so clearly not working, perhaps anarchy isn’t the worst option.
Meanwhile Mayebi, having had three quiet games, was showing Wilkin what seasoned Wrexham-watchers know: that every uneventful match merely brings a skittish one-and-a-half hours closer. Scrambling around his goal, missing crosses and at one point failing to challenge for a high ball as he appeared to be opting instead to convince the referee there had been a non-existant foul, he suffered a torrid afternoon. Lincoln’s poor finishing let him and his nervous defence off the hook.
It was horrible. I’ve never seen a Wrexham side booed off after their last home game of the season as supporters tend to applaud the effort put in over a campaign, but what could the fans do after that? Good job the seasonal trophies weren’t handed out on the pitch as that could have led to a very awkward atmosphere. There was no lap of honour.
There was a moment, after a catalogue of errors in which Steve Tomassen – who sadly failed to take the chance to impress Wilkin – had missed a straight ball, Mayebi suddenly changed his mind and attacked the resulting cross with his legs (!) and then the usually reliable Mark Carrington lost the ball in the box, when the crowd burst into a volley of loud, spontaneous booing. I don’t like that normally, but for the first time in 26 years of following Wrexham, I actually wanted to join in. Nuff said.
Wrexham (4-4-2): Mayebi; Carrington, Tomassen, Artell, Ashton; Bailey-Jones, Clarke (Keates 58), Harris, Hunt; Bishop (Williams 60), Anyinsah. Unused subs: Wright, Parle, Reynolds.
Lincoln City (4-1-3-2): Townsend; Miller, Audel, Brown, Newton; Nolan; Mendy, Bright (Power 58), Rowe (Robinson 82); Sheridan, Tomlinson (Arthur 78) Unused subs: Gray, Preece.
Referee: Amy Fearn
Wrexham Player Man of the Match: Joe Williams