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Unhappy return to home soil for Dragons' manager Smith

DENIS SMITH, Wrexham's Stoke-born manager, complained yet again that his misfiring side shot themselves in the foot.

DENIS SMITH, Wrexham's Stoke-born manager, complained yet again that his misfiring side shot themselves in the foot.

Smith was back on home soil hoping to stem a tide of expected emotion at the Britannia Stadium where his beloved Stoke needed a win to quality for the divisional play-offs.

They got it but it was hardly a promotion performance.

Indeed, Stoke's match-winner was cruelly against the run of play and it left Smith complaining, "We shot ourselves in the foot again with the goal. They have caught us on the break and it should have been stopped. But we didn't look as if we were going to open them up."

That's true but what turned out to be the winner was particularly cruel on goalkeeper Kristian Rogers who made breathtaking saves in both halves.

Rogers was thrown in the deep end following the sudden departure back to Norway of Marius Rovde, who has returned home to play for Lillestrom.

Smith was also without his three main strikers, Lee Trundle completed a two-match ban on Saturday, Craig Faulcon-bridge was injured and so was Lee Jones, who got all five goals in the 5-0 defeat of Cambridge United a week ago.

But if nothing else this eventful season Smith now knows beggars can't be choosers at Wrexham. He had to go with the players he had available and those included Craig Morgan, a 16-year-old first year scholar.

Morgan had to come on for the last 17 minutes, replacing the limping Dennis Lawrence.

Smith also replaced Waynne Phillips with Stephen Thomas and stand-in skipper Darren Ferguson made way for Carlos Edwards.

But Wrexham rarely looked like rubbing out Andy Cooke's winner on the half-hour.

Up to then Wrexham were well in it but while pushing on they got caught by a quick counter-attack from which Cooke beat the gallant Rogers.

Paul Barrett could only hit the sprawling legs of keeper Neil Cutler early in the second half when he should have scored.

Hector Sam, who played up front with Andy Morrell, put headers and shots off target.

The Red Dragons were again indebted to Rogers for another brilliant save from Chris Iwelumo.

Wrexham ended up with 10 men when Morrell had to come off in the last few minutes after a clash of heads. They had to defend desperately in the dying seconds.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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