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Dragons left to ponder second defeat in six days

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith had the look of a man who had been betrayed after his side's second defeat in six days.

WREXHAM manager Denis Smith had the look of a man who had been betrayed after his side's second defeat in six days.

Smith showed faith in the side routed 5-2 at home by Rochdale on Bank Holiday Monday, but it was all to no avail in the sunshine at Torquay on Saturday.

Wrexham began well, took the lead, but then caved in after losing centre-back Steve Roberts with a back injury seconds after Andy Morrell had given them a 1-0 lead from a 15th-minute penalty.

Downbeat Smith said, "Obviously, I am not very pleased. We started extremely well, looked a good side and scored. Then Steve Roberts did his back and, once he'd gone, we didn't pass it and we didn't defend. There were not a lot of plus points after that."

One plus, however, was another magnificent display by Andy Dibble, the veteran Welsh goal-keeper who is enjoying something of a renaissance at Wrexham. Dibble could not be blamed for either goal and saved a penalty to boot as he strived to inspire Wrexham.

But striker Lee Trundle perhaps hit the nail on the head saying, "No disrespect to Torquay, but if you want to do anything in this league, you've got to come to places like this and win."

Wrexham take note. It may be early days yet, but in less than a week they have slipped 10 places in the Third Division and Smith isn't going to settle for that. Morrell's penalty gave Wrexham the lead they always looked likely to get, but the loss of Roberts disrupted them defensively. Dan Bennett who came on in place of Roberts, never looked secure and once the Gulls got level it was always a daunting looking prospect for the Dragons.

Dibble was desperately unlucky with the first goal. He made a magnificent one-handed save from Lee Canoville, but the ball dropped invitingly on to Kevin Hill's head for an easy equaliser. Bennett was then exposed for the second goal eight minutes later and, although

Dibble did well to push David Graham wide, he still managed to squeeze home his short for 2-1.

Hector Sam, Wrexham's so-called super sub, hardly lived up to that by coming on and missing an immediate chance after being put clean through by Darren Ferguson. The pacy Tony Bedeau then missed an even bigger sitter for Torquay before being brought down by Paul Edwards for a 69th-minute penalty. Graham struck the spot kick well, but Dibble got down superbly to keep it out and that rekindled Wrexham's fire.

Ironically, Kevin Dearden, who was released by Wrexham, made a string of crucial saves to protect the lead. But Sam was also guilty of missing another good chance as Wrexham mounted a frantic late effort to salvage a point.

Smith and his assistant, Kevin Russell, now have to lift the Dragons for another difficult away game at Darlington on Friday.

They will be without young centre-back Shaun Pejic and goal-keeper Paul Whitfield. They met up in Bristol on Saturday night and later joined the Wales Under-21 squad who go to Finland later this week for a European championship international ahead of the Wales senior game.

Roberts is also doubtful and Wrexham are also without Brian Carey, who was recovering from knee surgery, and broken-leg victim Waynne Phillips.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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