If this is how our season’s going to pan out, it’ll be entertaining. It might not end successfully, but it’ll be great fun!
This match was a microcosm of our season so far: we look so full of goals, but clean sheets will be few and far between unless we improve defensively. It was tremendously enjoyable fare; if we play like this all season we won’t go up, but season ticket holders will get superb value for money!
Against both Nuneaton and Alfreton, two sides who look likely to suffer a long battle against relegation, we could easily have scored five goals. Frankly, the same was true in this match despite it being against a well-organised side which had kept three clean sheets in four before previously. However, they’d also struggled to create in those games, and yet they might well have scored more themselves; if Andy Coughlin hadn’t made a sharp late save with his feet we would have lost this game, which would have been very hard to take.
Coughlin had also made a very good late save at Alfreton to ensure we won the three points, but sadly his stop in this game couldn’t compensate for the error he’d made earlier. It was a common or garden goalkeeping mistake rather than the brain-fritz moments Jos Mayebi specialised in, but he still ought to have stopped a powerful shot which was close to him: shots near the ankles are tricky for keepers to get to, but the big man had done the difficult part and got both hands to it.
The goal was a key moment in a fascinating first half. Wrexham started at a terrific pace, and would have been highly disappointed not to have scored in the first ten minutes. Inevitably their pace slackened – no side could maintain such relentless pressing for long. Macclesfield then took control of midfield, passing intelligently and patiently,with Paul Turnbull orchestrating play in the style of Dean Keates.
Interestingly, Wrexham’s response was to drop their midfield very deep – something we haven’t seen to such an extent this season. Whether this was an attempt by Kevin Wilkin to address the defensive vulnerability which has afflicted his side. It worked too, as Macclesfield failed to create much despite dominating possession, and were restricted to long range shots. However, Coughlin’s error undid that good work.
Fortunately, this side has a bit of character about it to go with its attacking verve, and they hauled themselves back before the break, Connor Jennings getting a deserved reward for his efforts against his old club.
The second half was an odd mirror image of the first. Wrexham dominated the game, but Macclesfield actually created more chances. Blaine Hudson’s goal looked to have been enough, but the openness of this side meant game management was never really likely to be on the agenda. The match remained spectacularly open, and 3-1 looked more likely than 2-2, but sloppy defending allowed Macclesfield back into the game.
They could have got a third, quite apart from Coughlin’s save from Arthur Gnahoua, who cut inside Neil Ashton rather too easily, when Adriano Moke’s exquisite curler scraped the far post. More alarming than that shot was what happened a couple of seconds before it. As the cross which ended up with Moke flashed across the box Waide Fairhurst stepped off his man far too easily. Luckily he totally mistimed his header, his forehead jabbing thin air as the ball went past, but that one moment summed up how easy it is to create against our defence. Every time we attack we look menacing, but the balance of a promotion-seeking team isn’t there yet.
It’s great fun to watch, though!
Wrexham (4-2-3-1): Coughlin; Carrington, Smith, Hudson, Ashton; Clarke, Harris (Evans 46); Jennings, Durrell (Bishop 69), York; Moult. Unused subs: Bachmann, Stephens, Bailey-Jones.
Macclesfield (4-5-1): Taylor; Halls, Waterfall, Pilkington, Barrow; Moke, Turnbull, Lewis, Gonzalez (Rouse 63), Gnahoua; Fairhurst. Unused subs: Branagan, Cowan, Haining, Lavelle-Moore.
Referee: Karl Evans
Attendance: 4012 Away: 288
Miscellaneous: Andy Bishop’s 450th career appearance; Neil Ashton’s 350th career league appearance.
Wrexham Player man of the match: Manny Smith