CAUGHT between a rock and a hard place, Peterborough United manager Barry Fry believed st riker Leon McKenzie might have made the difference at a windswept Racecourse on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Wrexham's visitors, the London Road club's leading scorer had joined First Division Norwich City the prevous day in a deal that will eventually be worth in excess of £600,000.
And after a defeat which pushed his side into the bottom four, Fry the owner - he is now the majority shareholder of the club - may yet have cause to reflect that an undoubtedly good business deal was not necessarily in the longer term interests of Fry the manager.
"I don't think one player makes a team but he (McKenzie) certainly makes a difference," he said.
"I can't remember a shot we had in the 94 minutes played and we didn't have an effort on goal.
"We never looked like scoring from start to finish and we could have been here three days and not done so."
Fry hinted that Norwich's down-payment would not be in the bank for long, and forecast a busy week ahead as he seeks to replace McKenzie.
But as his Wrexham counterpart Denis Smith said last week, good strikers are hard to come by. And they certainly don't come cheap.
Where the two managers were in agree-ment was over the paucity of the football on offer during the opening 45 minutes in difficult, blustery conditions.
"It was a poor first half and I was hoping the second would be the same," said Fry. "But Wrexham had to improve and they did."
Smith summed it up thus: "I don't think what happened in the first half will ever replace football but the second half was a lot better."
Certainly the fans could have been forgiven for wondering whether they had made the right call in giving Christmas shopping a miss, but at least they could console themselves with the knowledge that they had avoided the crowds.
And if goalscoring chances were few and far between, there were enough errors from both sets of players to keep their vocal chords busy.
Nevertheless goalkeepers Andy Dibble and Mark Tyler were not merely spectators, the United man comfortably holding a fifth-minute effort from Lee Jones before Wrexham's stopper went down at Richard Logan's feet soon afterwards when he nipped in.
Longer-range efforts from Steve Thomson and Gareth Jelleyman also caused few problems for Dibble and strikers Chris Llewellyn and Logan might have done better with headers in the opposition penalty areas.
After an interval pep-talk later described by Smith as just short of blistering, Wrexham had the opportunities to have sealed a much-needed home win within five minutes of the restart.
With the wind at their backs the Dragons enjoyed a promising spell of pressure which, for the first time, rattled their opponents' previously composed defensive posture.
A partially-cleared Steve Thomas corner fell nicely for Paul Barrett 20 yards out and his first-time volley was not that far over the crossbar. Then a superb lay-off from the hard-working Llewellyn put Jones beyond his marker but he drove his shot wide.
When Carlos Edwards and Jones again contrived an opening, Llewellyn's valiant attempt to convert a diving header was in vain.
The increased tempo woke up the supporters and another slick passing move-ment between Jones and Carlos Edwards seemed tailor-made for Barrett to break the deadlock until David Farrell came to United's rescue with a last-ditch intervention at the expense of a corner.
But a 67th minute free- kick final ly unlocked the visitors' defence, Jim Whitley floating the ball into a crowded penalty area where Brian Carey rose high-est to send a looping header past Tyler.
United, who came to North Wales boasting the best away record in the division, briefly threatened to step up a gear and showed more ambition going forward, but a second Dragons goal within eight minutes soon put a stop to that.
It was an all-Trinidad affair with Carlos Edwards looking up to spot Hector Sam, a 70th-minute replacement for Jones, on the shoulder of the last defender.
He clipped the ball into space and Sam won the race, lifting it over the advancing Tyler and into the empty net. It was no more than the home side deserved for th e ir improve d second-half showing and they might well have added to Peterborough's discomfort.
But Sam, whose capacity to delight is matched only by his ability to infuriate, spoiled a superb solo run to the by-line by attempting to beat the United keeper from an impossible angle instead of looking up to play in the unmarked Llewellyn, who had run 20 yards for the opportunity to break his own long drought.
The former Norwich City man is certainly some way from becoming a Race-course idol but Smith, in common with several other observers, had no hesitation in giving him star billing alongside Carey.
The Racecourse boss said: "Chris was outstanding and he could have done with a goal. All Hector had to do was to roll the ball across, but at least he came on, scored a goal and got behind them again for the second chance."
And Smith had no doubt his side deserved the three points on their second-half performance.
"We turned them a bit more and we attacked them. With the chances we created I was a bit frustrated that we didn't score more than we did.
"But the good thing was that we scored from a set-play and got the other by getting in behind them. Keeping a clean sheet and winning the game makes it an ideal day for me."
WREXHAM: Dibble; Pejic, Carey, Lawrence; C Edwards, Whitley, Thomas (Crowell 76), Barrett, P Edwards; L Jones (Sam 70) Llewellyn. Subs: Whitfield, M Jones, McNulty.
PETERBOROUGH: Tyler; Gill, Burton, Arber, Jelleyman; Farrell (Rea 85) Newton, Woodhouse, Thomson; Logan (Legg 78), Clarke (Fotiadis 63). Subs: Kanu, Scott. BOOKINGS: Gill, Woodhouse, Jelleyman, Thomson.
REFEREE: David Pugh (Merseyside)