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Errors leave Dragons travel sick

BIRTHDAY boy Wayne Phillips could take some personal consolation from yet another defeat for Wrexham on their travels after completing what was only his second 90 minutes of second division football this season at Griffin Park on Saturday.

BIRTHDAY boy Wayne Phillips could take some personal consolation from yet another defeat for Wrexham on their travels after completing what was only his second 90 minutes of second division football this season at Griffin Park on Saturday.

But the 31-year-old midfielder, whose career was launched during the lean Racecourse era that marked Brain Flynn's first two years in charge, had little to celebrate following a frustrating afternoon when the only presents on display were those that enabled the home side to run out comfortable winners.

Defensive howlers at the beginning of each half were gratefully snapped up by a Brentford side desperate to get their promotion challenge back on track after a depressing sequence of results and those mistakes tore the heart out of what was otherwise a reasonably encouraging display from Denis Smith's players.

Summing up afterwards, Phillips said: "We are disappointed, because although we were 1-0 down at half-time we were quite happy with the way things were going and the intention was to carry on in the same way and hope to get a goal back.

"But the total opposite happened, we conceded an early goal again and then we went down to 10 men so it was always going to be difficult to come back. I thought we were as good as, if not better, than them in the first half. The workrate was good, we were penning them in and we had the lion's share of the play.

"I didn't think there was a great deal of difference between the teams, considering they were third from top and we are third from bottom. But once the second goal went in, they grew in confidence, and it had the opposite effect on us."

Wrexham's seventh sending-off of the season was inflicted upon striker Lee Trundle, dismissed for violent conduct after 68 minutes when he elbowed Michael Dobson in the face, but the player received sympathy from an unlikely corner.

Brentford manager Steve Coppell later described the decision as harsh, claiming that Trundle had merely attempted to shield the ball and had caught Dobson accidentally.

"It's the sort of thing you see on the training ground every day, so he was a bit unfortunate, but in the present climate, the referee does not have very much discretion," he said.

Coppell could afford to be charitable, knowing that what might have been an uncomfortable afternoon had been made much easier by Wrexham's inadequacies at the back, where goalkeeper Kristian Rogers had been recalled in place of David Walsh after spending the previous two matches on the bench.

And with just five minutes on the clock, what should have been a routine mopping-up exercise brought the opening goal when the bustling Lloyd Owusu took advantage of a misunderstanding between the 'keeper and captain Brian Carey, flicking the ball sideways for Stephen Hunt to prod the ball into the unguarded net.

If Rogers had yearned for an opportunity to make amends he was to be disappointed because the home side failed to build on their advantage and could barely conjure up a shot on target for the remainder of the first half, as Wrexham settled down at the back.

But there was little to cheer the visiting fans behind the Brentford goal either, although the visitors worked hard for little reward. Phillips made one pentrating run to the by-line before his centre was cut out by Olaf Gottskalksson.

The goalkeeper, though, earned his money after 26 minutes when Shaun Holmes got forward to hit a superb shot from fully 30 yards. Gottskalksson went full length to get one hand to the ball and, as Andy Morrell pounced on the rebound, recovered quickly to block the follow-up effort.

With Martyn Chalk and Steve Thomas busy in midfield, and Phillips diligently tracking from one penalty area to the other, Wrexham enjoyed plenty of the ball, but Michael Blackwood was rarely given the chance to run at the home defence, and the service to Trundle and Morrell was poor.

And the Dragons also lived dangerously at times, Ben Burgess delivering a cross that Owusu just failed to reach before Steve Roberts made a superb saving tackle on the Brentford striker minutes before the break as he burst through into the penalty area.

The home side's second goal, on 50 minutes, was a killer blow for Wrexham, who had just squandered another good chance when Morrell volleyed over the bar from a corner.

And it was a route one special with Gottskalksson punting the ball upfield to Owusu, whose flicked header found Burgess on the wrong side of his marker. The striker's first touch was excellent and was matched by the power and accuracy of his shot from the edge of the penalty area, which gave Rogers no chance.

There was little prospect thereafter of a fightback by the visitors, who found themselves even further in arrears after 63 minutes. Paul Evans whipped in a cross from

The out-of-sorts Trundle made his early exit soon afterwards and it was a case of damage limitation from that point on. Smith's unofficial assistant manager, Kevin Russell, was given a run out in place of Thomas and Kevin Sharp came on for Blackwood, but the experienced home defence were never forced on to the back foot and the better chances continued to come at the other end.

Steve Sidwell, given time and space in the penalty area, spurned a great chance in the closing stages and Evans, who always seems to produce a goal when he faces Wrexham, was unlucky not to extend that sequence after a run and shot from 20 yards which cannoned off the woodwork in added time.

BRENTFORD: Gottskalksson; Dobson, Ingimarsson, Powell, Anderson; Sidwell, Evans, Mahon, Hunt (Williams, 82); Burgess (O'Connor, 74), Owusu (Mc Cammon, 74). Subs: Theobald, O'Connor. WREXHAM: Rogers; Whitley, Roberts, Carey Holmes; Thomas (Russell, 61), Phillips, Chalk, Blackwood (Sharp, 73); Trundle, Morrell. Subs: Walsh, Lawrence, Edwards.

Sent off: Wrexham's Trundle; Bookings: Thomas, Sharp (Wrexham).

Referee: Brian Curson (Hinckley). Attendance: 5,326.


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