A HIGH-tempo and competitive game, together with a glut of goals, were just what Wrexham needed at this stage of their pre-season, so there was plenty of cause for satisfaction in the Racecourse camp following last night’s friendly alongside the M53 motorway.
Hosts Vauxhall Motors, one tier below the Dragons in the Blue Square hierarchy, were outclassed during the opening 45 minutes that saw promising displays from several key players, notably Gareth Taylor.
But the Rivacre Park outfit enjoyed a more profitable second half that tested their fitness levels to the limit and they were rewarded with two goals.
At 11 days and counting to the opening day of the season, Dragons boss Dean Saunders is beginning to fine-tune his team selection plans and provided a hint about his defensive thoughts by starting with the same back five that had played the 90 minutes against Manchester City last Saturday.
In the continued absence of Liverpool loan signing Dean Bouzanis, goalkeeper Chris Maxwell looks to be a certain starter against Eastbourne Borough a week on Saturday, although Saunders might well be worried after the teenager went off after just 21 minutes to be replaced by trialist Cortes Dardo.
And it has to be assumed that while Ashley Westwood continues to battle a shin injury, Mani Assoumani and Mike Williams will be at the centre of a back four in which wide men Silvio Spann and Sam Williamson currently have few rivals.
Further forward a few questions have yet to be resolved, especially as first choice strikers Marc Williams and Taylor have missed out on valuable match minutes, Taylor’s run-out last night his first in a fortnight.
In midfield too, the options are more plentiful, hence Wes Baynes, Nathan Fairhurst and Jamie McCluskey being given a chance at Rivacre Park to stake their claims following strong performances last weekend by Hedi Taboubi, Andy Fleming and Mark Jones.
But even the best-laid plans sometimes come unstuck and a goal for the home side after just 78 seconds was proof that defenders cannot afford to switch off even for a moment.
Wrexham were, however, caught out by Josh Wilson’s early pass that was chased down by Josh Hines at exactly the moment Maxwell came out to clear. The collison between the two was interpreted as a penalty and Brian Moogan converted.
Were the visitors bothered? Not unduly and some slick passing on a rain-coated surface soon saw them take complete charge. Full of running to boot, the Dragons went close through Taylor, who drove one effort straight at home keeper Danzelle Hamilton, and Baynes whose more powerful effort screamed inches too high.
Looking to have fully shaken off the effects of a week-long illness, Taylor was strong and effective and only a fine tackle by Wilson denied him an 18th minute equaliser.
But a sizeable contingent of travelling fans had to wait only seven minutes more before Baynes delivered Wrexham’s opening goal with a trademark free kick from the edge of the penalty area.
And two more followed in the space of a further seven minutes, Taylor benefiting from deliveries by Fairhurst and McCluskey to score both with fine headers.
Six second half changes – the majority youth players or trialists – had little adverse effect on Wrexham’s cutting edge as their relentless pace kept the home side on the rack.
Trialist Paul Ennis added a fourth with a long-range effort that caught Hamilton unawares and within a minute Simon Brown hit a first-time curling shot from 20 yards that gave the keeper no chance.
To their credit Vauxhall kept going and Dardo needed to be alert to deny Karl Noon with a smart save low down to his righ before Obi Anoruo went close with a cross shot that Hamilton pushed away for a corner.
The goalkeeper produced an even better save to foil Brown from close range and the home side were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 70th minute when Dardo was beaten to a bouncing through ball by Noon, who bravely headed home.
The goal seemed to unsettle the Portuguese trialist and he was found wanting again three minutes later when he flapped at a cross and Wilson was on hand to give some respectability to the score-line.
VAUXHALL MOTORS: Hamilton; Moogan, Dames, Lane, Stearman, Hannigan, Wilson, F Smith, Noon, Hines, Noone.
WREXHAM: Maxwell (Dardo 21); Spann (Ennis 45), Assoumani (Anoruo 52), Williams (Chris Smith 45), Williamson (Hunt 45); Baynes, Fairhurst (Wright 70), Christian Smith, McCluskey (Carden 45); G Taylor (Abbott 45), Hendry (Brown 38).