Kidderminster Harriers 1 Wrexham 0
DEAN Saunders’ honeymoon came to an end at fortress Aggborough on Saturday as he tasted Blue Square Premier defeat for the first time.
But the boss can take heart from the fact that his rejuvenated Dragons produced a display that was as good if not better than any of the ones that brought him five straight league wins after arriving at the Racecourse.
Had it not been for the woodwork and a second-half wonder-show from goalkeeper Adam Bartlett, Saunders’ blistering start would have stretched to six matches.
Little wonder, then, he said: “I’m flabbergasted. I was sitting there thinking we’re never going to score because the goalie has made five or six unbelievable saves and we’ve hit the post three times.
“It never went for us today but I can’t complain about the way we played because we went out and tried to win the game. We could have scored 10.”
Brian Smikle’s 26th-minute winner means Wrexham are now 10 points behind pacesetters Histon and four from the play-off spots.
Saunders has made it clear he wants to push for promotion automatically and nothing he witnessed in the excellent contest will have made him scale down his ambition.
Kidderminster boast the best home record in the division, having won eight and drawn one of their 10 outings on their own turf this season. And while they showed, especially in the first half, why they are riding high in the top four, the way in which they were opened up suggests the eighth-placed Dragons have the capability to break the better teams down.
Creativity was at a premium under former boss Brian Little, but his successor has tried to address that by bringing in a host of ball-playing midfielders, the most of impressive of whom so far being Nathan Woolfe.
The on-loan Bolton Wanderers starlet marked his debut with a sumptuous strike in the 3-1 victory at Weymouth seven days earlier, but his performance moved up a notch against the Harriers, whose first let-off came in the seventh minute when Wes Baynes brought down a raking pass from man-of-the-match Mike Williams and saw a fierce 30-yard drive come back off the upright.
That sparked the hosts into life and they got the all- important goal when Matthew Barnes-Homer’s inviting cross from the right was chested down and drilled in by Smikle.
But Wrexham would have been level at half-time had the post not denied Woolfe from 30 yards and then top-scorer Jefferson Louis from 18.
Undeterred, the visitors continued to pile the pressure on after the restart and only a fantastic stop from Bartlett kept out debutant Patrick Suffo from close range just seconds after the Cameroon striker had come on.
And, after Woolfe went close, Bartlett did it again as he turned a shot from Baynes away for a corner.
There was still time for Marc Williams to stab just wide but by then Saunders and the 840 travelling supporters that made up more than a third of the crowd had probably guessed it was not going to be their day.