WREXHAM striker Neil Roberts made a compelling case for a first team recall in an excellent performance for the Dragons reserves last night.
The Racecourse club captain responded in exemplary fashion after being dropped for last week’s two matches against Macclesfield and Stockport County and led the line well as Joey Jones’ charges finished on the wrong end of a 5-3 scoreline against visitors Preston North End.
Strong, lively and full of running, Roberts won the majority of his aerial battles and held the ball up well as Wrexham more than held their own for an hour against the Championship side’s second string.
Trailing to a 10th minute opener from on-loan striker Neil Mellor, the Dragons were back on terms five minutes later when goalkeeper Chris Neal allowed a powerful shot from promising midfielder Wes Baynes to slip through his hand.
Roberts was unlucky with a fierce effort that cannoned off a post but the home side went ahead seven minutes into the second half through Juan Ugarte.
The Spaniard, who worked hard throughout, is a long way short of the player he was two years ago, but his predatory instinct is as keen as ever and he showed great composure to finish after his initial shot was blocked by Neal.
Brett Ormerod fired an equaliser before Andy Fleming restored Wrexham’s lead once more, but as the relatively young home side tired Ormerod and Simon Whaley completed the scoring.
The result means both Wrexham sides are propping up their respective leagues, but the silver lining for the Racecourse boss Brian Carey has been the performances from his younger players.
Marc Williams, Michael Carvill and Neil Taylor made their first starts of the season at Stockport County last Saturday and none of them let the manager down.
“They were given their chance and they took it with both hands,” he said yesterday. “It’s very encouraging to see that because it’s never easy for the young lads to come into the team at a time like this.
“They made a very positive contribution and it’s the sort of experience that will stand them in good stead for the future. But I’m keen to make sure that they are not forced into playing week in and week out, which could do them more harm than good.”
Defender Ryan Valentine, an absentee through injury at Edgeley Park, is confident he will be available for selection this weekend, but the Dragons boss is less optimistic about the prospects for striker Eifion Williams.
Also in the treatment room and doubtful for the visit of Lincoln City is midfielder Silvio Spann, who injured his ankle on the stroke of half time at Stockport.
City, who have played a game more than Wrexham, are only three points better off and Carey said: “We are not complacent but it shows that our situation is not desperate.
“We know we need to start winning games – and soon – but there is no cause to panic. Obviously one win in six is not good enough but there is no crisis and we will prepare for the game as we have done every week so far.
“What separates us from the sides we have played is that they have taken their chances and that’s something we’ve failed to do.
“A goal can change the course of the game and we have not been ruthless enough in that respect at the moment.
“We are working hard to change that, but I accept that talk is cheap and we have to make it happen.”