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No Blackpool pleasure ride for sad Dragons

WREXHAM are on the verge of bid-ding farewell to the Second Division with a whimper.

WREXHAM are on the verge of bidding farewell to the Second Division with a whimper.

Results elsewhere ensured that Wrexham would live to fight another day after a lacklustre display that was anything but a pleasure ride at the seaside.

And Red Dragons manager Denis Smith was clearly seething over a performance that gift-wrapped their unimpressive Blackpool hosts an Easter present.

"My half-time talk didn't inspire them and it was probably the harshest since I've been here," said Smith whose players appear resigned to dropping into Division Three.

"Our game is about commitment and passion and those are the sort of words I've been using before. But at half-time I didn't even bother and that's disappointing."

Wrexham complete their programme with home games against doomed Cambridge and struggling Bournemouth as well as a visit to promotion-chasing Stoke City.

But even three wins would only guarantee 46 points and Notts County and Northampton - the two clubs just above the relegation zone - already have 44 and 45 respectively. Victory for both on Saturday would condemn Wrexham, no matter what they do against bottom-placed Cambridge, to relegation and end their nine-season stay in Division Two.

Blackpool entered the contest on 50 points - traditionally seen as the mark for safety. But the LDV Vans Trophy winners - who will celebrate their Millennium Stadium triumph with a civic reception tonight - did not appear to be in a hurry to remove lingering relegation doubts with their approach play laboured and frontmen John Murphy and Richard Walker receiving scant service.

Murphy almost profited from Gary Parkinson's long punt forward but Wrexham were cursing their luck in the 11th minute when home goalkeeper James Pullen suffered a rush of blood outside his area.

Pullen's attempted clearance fell straight to Craig Faulcon-bridge and the Blackpool target who is out of contract this summer rolled his shot from 40 yards agonisingly wide of a gaping goal.

Wrexham were unable to build any momentum but a hesitant home de-fence allowed Lee Jones, who had been preferred to Lee Trundle, to reach Marius Rovde's long goal-kick.

Jones beat Pullen to the bouncing ball by a split second but his header again fell the wrong side of an empty net from Wrexham's point of view.

Wrexham were made to pay for their profligacy within moments. Martin Bullock picked out a neat pass to Richie Wellens and his centre across the six-yard box was diverted into his own net by Shaun Pejic.

Bullock would have doubled Blackpool's lead but for Rovde's alertness and the game began to open up with Wrexham desperate to push on.

Jones neatly curled a ball into Faulconbridge's path and the favour was close to being repaid three minutes later when the former Liverpool striker snatched at his volley from a perfectly weighted knock-down.

Trundle was called upon before the hour-mark as Wrexham switched Jones to the left and Faulconbridge failed to capitalise on Chris Clarke's error with Pullen smartly off his line.

Wrexham were caught by a counter-attack after 67 minutes. John Hills fed full-back Tommy Jaszczun and Murphy dispatched his near-post cross into the roof of the net.

Then Wellens, who once cleaned David Beckham's boots during his time as a Manchester United apprentice, finished Wrexham off with a tapin seven minutes from time.

The fact that it was the 87th goal Wrexham have conceded in the league this term perhaps tells the story of a sorry season better than most - and not even Beckham could save the Red Dragons from their fate right now.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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