IN the absence through illness of Wrexham manager Denis Smith at Saturday's 3-1 defeat by Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park, assistants Kevin Russell and Joey Jones were left to witness another selfdestructive performance by the relegation-threatened Racecourse side.
Skipper Brian Carey was sent off for the second time this season, taking the club's total of dismissals to eight and piling up future suspension problems that the Red Dragons can ill-afford.
But despite the handicap of playing the final 35 minutes with only ten men, Wrexham did enough to take something from the game and Russell admitted afterwards that he was embarrassed to trot out the same line that has been the story of recent matches.
"We should definitely have taken something from the game so we are very disappointed again," he said. "Every game we've played in the last month, we could have won. I thought we played very well in the first half but what cost us the game was the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half.
"We started that sloppily to the point where they scored then we got on top again. I thought we would have snatched a draw or even won it until the last goal had gone in and made the score look worse than it was, but it didn't matter at that stage.
"On the positive side, the lads did really well again but it's getting a bit embarrassing saying that every week while we are not getting the results. Something has to turn, sooner or later, but having said that the finishing has not been the best again today."
Russell had no complaints about Carey's dismissal, which came minutes after the defender had been booked for a foul, but said the club might appeal in a bid to reduce the severity of the punishment.
"Apparently, Brian said the referee gave him a straight red but I can't see how that was a clear goalscoring opportunity because the lad still had a lot to do, so it's one we might be able to appeal," he added.
"From where we were, we couldn't really see it and, while it probably was a foul, it's not as though their man was through one-on-one with the 'keeper so it will be interesting to see what the referee says."
A straight red card carries a three-match ban in comparison to a one-game suspension for two cautions.
Russell confessed to a sense of frustration after watching Wrexham fail to defend their early lead but continue to create enough chances to have picked up at least a point.
"It was a sloppy goal to give away just before half-time and it was probably the only real effort they had on goal," he said. "We dominated the game, so that was a bit frustrating.
"We felt the header from Brian put the ball into the air for a long time and maybe Kristian could have come and punched it but until we look at the video, that might be a bit harsh on him."
But he insisted Wrexham were not doomed to third division football next season. "There's still a long way to go and we've just got to keep the lads going," he added. "After the performances they've been putting in we can't complain about the effort. It's just the finishing and the results that we are lacking. We have to keep on doing the things we are doing and hopefully we'll turn the corner.
"There are positive things coming out of the games but we've not been having any luck. We are not winning but the lads are not lacking confidence. Some of the football we played today was brilliant and we were playing a side who have spent a lot of money. They were tipped to be up there this season but we competed with them really well.
"It's just the final touches we are lacking and we just have to keep going."