Wrexham 2 Lewes 0
THE Dragons put their FA Cup humiliation behind them on Saturday as they swept aside the 10-men basement boys to turn up the heat on the Blue Square Premier pacesetters.
Shaun Whalley and Mike Williams goals from Wes Baynes corners sealed a comfortable win which went some way to erasing the memory of the Eastwood Town debacle and ensured Dean Saunders a fourth successive league victory since taking over the Racecourse hotseat.
Boss Saunders was delighted by the response of his eighth-placed side and believes the result will have been noted by table-topping Kettering Town, who are now just five points clear of Wrexham having played a game more.
Saunders said: “We got a slap in the face on Tuesday but I thought the lads fought really well today. We scored two goals from corners which we’ve worked on so that was pleasing, but I thought we could have scored seven or eight.
“Kettering lost today so the gap is getting shorter. I said to the players that we could send out a message to the rest of the league by winning the game, which we’ve done.”
The only downside for Saunders was that he was left out of pocket for the second league match in succession.
Having shelled out £25 to Williams after he broke his Dragons duck at Mansfield, he had to hand over another £50 to the Wales Under 21s international centre-back and a further £100 to left-winger Whalley after they won their bets with him to find the back of the net.
Baynes will no doubt want a share of their winnings as it was his pinpoint deliveries which set-up the strikes, the first of which came in the 18th minute as Ashley Westwood’s header was touched in by Whalley and the second 21 minutes from time as Williams powerfully headed home his first in front of his own fans.
The assists capped a man-of-the-match display by livewire Baynes, who revelled in the right-wing role afforded to him following the arrival of Ritchie de Laet from Stoke City.
The Belgian right-back was the more impressive of the two home debutants on show, although Manchester City’s Cypriot-born centre-midfielder Angelos Tsiaklis showed some neat touches and improved as the game wore on.
Top-scorer Jefferson Louis, recalled along with Williams and Whalley in the other changes to the team that went down at Eastwood, was not at his best but he added a much-needed physical presence up front with Marc Williams, who was as tireless as ever.
Baynes and Whalley forced Rikki Banks into good saves after the opener, but Wrexham, after Gavin Ward did well to keep out Anthony Barness, survived a major scare at the start of the second half when Steven Elliott’s effort from Jack Compton’s free kick was ruled out for offside.
Lewes, without star men Michael Standing, Scott Taylor and Danny Culip, offered little other encouragement for their 11 visiting supporters and their fate was effectively sealed in the 66th minute when Joe Tabiri marked his debut by getting sent off for a second bookable offence.
The Dragons doubled their advantage moments later and would have extended it further had it not been for some fine goalkeeping by the aptly-named Banks, who denied Marc Williams, on three occasions, and then Baynes.