WREXHAM manager Denis Smith is facing up to the challenge of rallying his troops for the make-or-break Easter period.

With the club's cash-flow problems providing an unwelcome behind-the-scenes distraction, defeat against Tranmere Rovers last Saturday left the Dragons' Division Two play-off dreams hanging by a thread.

Now Smith must inject some much-needed belief into his players for this Saturday's visit to Port Vale and the home match with Hartlepool United on Monday.

Asked about his side's fading play-off hopes after the Tranmere setback, the Dragons' boss said: 'We've made life very difficult for ourselves but while we still have a chance I will keep pushing and try to drive people on. But at times everybody needs a little bit of help.'

The beleaguered Wrexham boss was certainly an angry man at the weekend.

Despite riding high in the Second Division following promotion last May, home crowds have been poor, the club continues to struggle financially and an all-ticket noon kick-off ordered by the police clashed with the live TV coverage of the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Arsenal.

Visiting supporters contributed 1,200 to a 4,500 gate and earlier last week our sister paper, the Daily Post, reported a club spokesman as warning of potential redundancies.

Dragons boss Smith said: 'I was not happy with the performance against Tranmere. I wasn't happy with the week I've had.

'I've got a Press that's not interested in reporting the football, I've got the police who possibly don't want us here and fans who don't want to turn up.

'And then you get a performance off the players that's about as good as all that put together.'

A fuming Smith added: 'The adverse publicity doesn't help. That must be great for people outside the club but it doesn't help the team.

'That sort of media coverage does not do this club any good. When I have to spend the first hour sorting that out instead of working with the team, that's not helpful.

'I'm not going to make excuses for the players or for myself but there's been an accumulation of things that sometimes make you wonder why you do the job.'

Smith, who had several players missing through injury, including striker Hector Sam, unfit after international duty with Trinidad in midweek, also lost Carlos Edwards after less than half an hour.

'That doesn't make it any better,' he added. 'We are losing too many play-ers because I haven't got any more. If you looked at their bench and at ours it just about summed up the difference between the two clubs.

'Look at their crowd and at our crowd and at the noise they made. There are a lot of things that are not right.'

Wrexham have mounting injury and suspension concerns ahead of the weekend. Captain Darren Ferguson and centre-back Craig Morgan are suspended on Saturday after picking up red cards at Plymouth a fortnight ago.

Veteran defender Brian Carey had an injection in his foot in order to play against Tranmere, while the extent of the influential Edwards' injury was not know when the Mail went to press.

Paul Edwards was red-carded against Tranmere and will serve a ban for his indiscretion.