5th September 2000:

10th February 2001: Nationwide League Division Two

Oldham Athletic 5   Wrexham 1
(Corazzin 10, 44, 46, 56, Rickers 55)   (Edwards 32)

Coruscating Corazzin Humiliates Reds

This was Wrexham’s first defeat of 2001, and it was as emphatic as the scoreline suggests. Canadian striker Carlo Corazzin, an erstwhile transfer target of Brian Flynn, got a consolation goal at The Racecourse when Athletic lost 3-1 back in September, but that was no preparation for what he would achieve today, as he lashed four goals past Kevin Dearden, who was one of the few players to emerge blameless and indeed saved a Corazzin penalty which could have added an even more horrific pall to the final score. Wrexham’s defence was stretched beyond recognition, with individual errors a regular occurence and Bouanane often wandering up the line, making their operation as a back four impossible. It was a performance which made the prospective arrival of Dennis Lawrence seem all the more urgent.

Wrexham actually started brightly, with Craig Faulconbridge and Kevin Russell holding the ball up well. A tight offside decision denied Carlos Edwards as Darren Ferguson pierced the home defence, and a typical surge by Bouanane ended in a testing cross which Hotte dealt with a full stretch.

However, in the tenth minute Oldham’s first real moment of promise yielded an easy goal and changed the game. John Sheridan’s free kick on the half way line was chested down by Corazzin and he was allowed to take the ball on his chest before lashing it past Dearden on the turn from ten yards. Buoyed by the goal, Athletic enjoyed their first real spell of pressure, Eyres whipping in a corner which was hacked away from under Dearden’s bar, an instant snap-shot from some distance by Corazzin testing the keeper as the heavens opened, and Rickers hitting a twenty yard drive that had Dearden scampering as it rolled wide.

In the meantime, Wrexham’s midfield rather seized up in the quagmire of a pitch, with Russell and Faulconbridge gamely chasing a series of hopeful punts forward and Edwards entirely peripheral. It was therefore wholly appropriate that when the equaliser came, following a rare couple of minutes of possession for the visitors, it came in fortuitous circumstances. Ferguson had looked the most likely to fashion a chance, but his role in creating the goal was inadvertant, if decisive. A clearance struck him on the back and fell to Faulconbridge, who worked a one-two with Edwards to get behind the defence before pulling the ball back for the Trinidadian to score from close range.

Oldham responded with a powerful drive by Corazzin which went just over, then the Canadian striker had a shout for a penalty when his cross seemed to strike Carey’s hand, Dearden fumbling the deflected ball behind, and from the resultant corner Sheridan pulled the ball back to Carss, who managed to shoot straight at Dearden from ten yards.

All this was nothing compared to the frenzy in which the half ended, however. With three minutes left before the break, McNiven lifted a cross to the near post which Corazzin headed wide, but the linesman had already flagged for a penalty as Brian Carey pulled the striker back. The Wrexham skipper argued vehemently, but consultation with the linesman brought no reprieve – that was provided by Dearden, who saved Corazzin’s firmly struck penalty low to his right. Wrexham were stung and responded with a couple of fluent moves, Russell’s pull-back intercepted by Kelly after Ferguson sent him clear behind the left back. However, it was Oldham whose were to manage the breakthrough as the half came to a close. Once again Wrexham’s defence looked desperate, and when Carey lost out to Carss on the edge of the box, Corazzin found himself clear on goal. His first attempt to drive the ball home was superbly parried by Dearden, but Corazzin was first to the rebound and finished with aplomb, beating the two men on the line despite not having the kindest of angles to the right of the goal.

There was still time for more drama before the break, with Faulconbridge knocked to the ground as he waited for the ball to drop in the box, the sort of offence which is routinely given on the half way line. If that decision had gone Wrexham’s way, a very different story might have emerged from the second half.

As it was, it was difficult to see how the visiting defence would be able to survive the second half if they lined up in the same manner, and the rampaging Corazzin’s hat trick had an air of inevitability about it. Crucially for the outcome of the game, we only had to wait forty five seconds after the restart to see Corazzin complete his hat trick and breach the back four again with a replica of his first goal – again Wrexham allowed a Sheridan free kick to carry through to Corazzin, who was given the space to turn and lash it past Dearden. Wrexham rallied and desperate memories of Luton were rekindled as Bouanane had a hopeful shout for a penalty after being checked in the box and Owen raced past his man and shot narrowly over from the edge of the box. If one of these moments had gone Wrexham’s way the game might have turned out differently, but this resurgence was halted dramatically by two goals in a minute.

The first came from a poor refereeing decision, McGregor penalised for dangerous kicking when Corazzin clearly ducked into his foot, which made contact at shin height. After the striker was treated, Sheridan eschewed the direct route which had already brought two goals, spreading the ball to the right wing, and when it was worked back in to the edge of the area Bouanane missed his chance to intercept and Rickers curled it home from twenty yards. Wrexham had hardly recovered from this blow when, within a minute, Corazzin had his fourth, capitalising as McGregor misjudged a long ball and again leaving Dearden with no chance.

With over half an hour left in the game, the final whistle seemed a depressing distance away as a stunned Wrexham continued to ship water. Dearden had to save smartly from Eyres drive, before they finally earned some respite, Edwards beating a man and hitting a powerful drive which Kelly saved well, Phillips forced a spectacular save from Kelly from twenty five yards, the ball moving wickedly in the air and pawed desperately to safety, and when Edwards did well to anticipate an Innes clearance and put Russell in behind the defence, Hotte made a fine last ditch tackle. There was still a sense of danger whenever Wrexham, had to defend though, and an awful Roche header across his own box put Allott clear, the beleaguered Dearden racing across the area to save superbly at his feet. The resultant corner saw Bouanane hack a Hotte header away from under his bar, and Faulconbridge had to make a last ditch tackle as the ball rolled loose.

By this point Oldham were playing exhibition stuff, confidence coursing through the side as everything they tried came off. The referee seemed to catch this spirit when he charitably turned down a clearcut second Athletic penalty as Edwards tripped Innes in the box, erroneously giving the offence a good yard outside the area.

Corazzin was rested, to a deserved standing ovation, but Matthew Tipton was soon filling his boots to good effect, lashing a shot just wide of Dearden’s goal after totally out-stripping Carey down the right. Minutes later Carey was again beaten by the ex-Welsh Under-21 international, tripping him right on the edge of the box as he shaped to shoot. Carey was lucky not to get booked, and was equally fortunate when Eyres dinked the free kick just wide with Dearden rooted to the spot.

Thankfully, the final whistle went before further damage could be inflicted. If one makes a list of cardinal errors we are told teams cannot afford to commit, Wrexham would be found to have made most of them in one afternoon: letting in an early goal; conceding a goal just before the break (despite Dearden rescuing them minutes earlier); letting one in within a minute of the restart; conceding two in a minute; and three of these goals coming from one simple ball into the box rather than being earned by good approach play. Let’s hope they’ve got these mistakes out of their system for a while. However, perhaps most alarming was not that Wrexham got thrashed, as the fact that it didn’t take a good team to do it.

OLDHAM (4-4-2): Kelly; McNiven, Garnett (Holt 65), Hotte, Innes; Rickers, Carss, Sheridan (Boshell 73), Eyres; Corazzin (Tipton 73), Allott. UNUSED SUBS: Miskelly, Dudley.

WREXHAM (4-3-3): Dearden; Roche, McGregor, Carey (c), Bouanane; Owen, Ferguson, Phillips; Edwards; Russell, Faulconbridge. UNUSED SUBS: Rogers, Ridler, Barrett, Gibson, Morrell.

Referee: David Crick (Worcester Park, Surrey)

Oldham   Wrexham

Attendance: 4,703

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