Well I asked for more heart and pride from those wearing yellow today, and I got it. A make-shift United team, buoyed by excellent performances from our three new loanees, showed more determination and skill than we’ve seen since April.
We do everything but take chances to kill the game off, especially in the second half where the game gets stretched but the final pass/shot is lacking – then there is a cruel late goal to give Chester an undeserved point (though they did have great chances too).
Add to that another disallowed goal, and more refereeing controversy and we are still waiting for our first win of 17-18. Gutting again, but performance wise it was on a different planet from the abysmal Solihull and Woking defeats of last week.
Higgins 7.5 McGinty 7 Anderson 7 Cole 8
Haworth 8 Young 7 Dowling 8.5 Reid 6.5
Gray 7.5 Keating 7.5
Subs: Pittman 6
Man of the Match:
For once there are choices! Dowling is my mom though. He has composure and swagger in midfield, taking time to pick passes and his goal; a sweet curler that he makes look easy. Makes such a difference to have someone in there who doesn’t panic and isn’t low on confidence. A breath of fresh air and a player we will want to keep for as long as possible!
Upfront Gray and Keating give all sorts of problems to Chester’s defence and really should have bagged goals to reward their hard work.
In goal Vincent Dorel makes some really solid stops, takes crosses and starts counter attacks – as good a performance as we could have hoped for from the keeper. Suddenly the loss of Clarke doesn’t look quite so catastrophic.
Haworth on the wing gives us width and is purposeful on the ball (see Player Spotlight).
Last but not least Chinua Cole has an excellent game; he shows smart positional sense, gets tight to the winger and is assured on the ball. He could be a real find and Davis may struggle to get into the team!
Good link up play on the right sees the ball crossed over; it eventually falls outside the area to Dowling – no panic from the loan man. He controls it perfectly and plants a curler in the right hand side of the goal (clipping the post on the way). A goal that would definitely have been a worthy winner, but for the last minute jitters.
Other than that Gray hits a peach of a volley for the disallowed goal, whilst him and Keating also have guilt edged chances. Gray needs to learn to look up for his partner at times!
Robbie perseveres with 4-4-2 and with the help of new arrivals plus Haworth it works well. The team has better width and attacking threat, giving the hope that things may get better. We have very little on the bench to change things up, as players get tired and towards the end sit too deep (once again) as Chester equalise. Overall more like it as the team look balanced and attitude-wise more motivated for the game.
Chester are very slow out of the blocks (perhaps expecting an easier game!) and only wake up after the Dowling goal. Much like United they should score more, and hit the post and bar during the first half. The tricky Akintunde is the main danger upfront until he limps off later on, whilst at the back the defence looks slow and hesitant – very similar to ours recently! They don’t cause us too many problems in the second, and are fortunate to grab a late draw. Not a team who are likely to push up the league on this form, but who knows.
The Ref Sam Purkiss has one big decision in the match and that is the disallowed goal. He was closer to the action, but decides to take the word of the linesman – who I think gave a free kick for high kicking. Very debatable really, the away team shout loud for it and Gray’s excellent finish is wiped off the board. Apart from that he is slow to make decisions and gets a few other things wrong.
I had not seen Andy before and I was pleasantly surprised by how good he was today! The winger wanted the ball and hogged the touchline to give us welcome width. He also combined well with Ryan and made some sharp crosses that wern’t quite gobbled up by the front two. Very good from the winger and he got a deserved round of applause on being subbed for JP.
Denied by the curse of the late goals again, will we ever stop it! The game was there for the taking today, but we just fell short once more. However a number of positives today of better to come, with the new loan guys doing a great job – especially Dowling who slotted in brilliantly. With players to come back and a new manager finally arriving soon (well he better be!), we can hopefully turn this early season misery round. Let’s do it sooner rather than later please!
Wrexham 9th Sept Plainmoor
Dominic – TT Editor