WREXHAM boss Denis Smith is remaining upbeat, despite watching his side crash to a 1-0 defeat against Rushden and Diamonds in the final of the Isle of Man Trophy on Saturday.
A single goal from Rodney Jack in the first half was enough to settle a disappointing encounter, with the Diamonds striker capitalising on a slip by Brian Carey on the edge of the Wrexham box to fire a low drive past Andy Dibble.
The Dragons' best chance came when new signing Chris Llewellyn went through one-on-one with Rushden keeper Billy Turley, but the ex-Norwich City man shot straight at the keeper's feet.
Wrexham were incensed when Premiership referee Neale Barry failed to award what looked like a clear second-half penalty when Marcus Bignot appeared to bring down Dragons striker Hector Sam.
It was the first time in three years that Wrexham had lost in the Isle of Man Trophy and it ended a 20-match unbeaten streak that stretched back to March.
But Smith said he was delighted by what he had seen from his players during the tournament.
He said: 'We have had a super time here with two very competitive games to start off our stay and if you had told me we would get to the final and be equally as good as the team which won it, then I would've been happy with that.
'Hopefully, in two weeks' time when the season starts, the chances we created today will be taken.
'I'm pleased with the youngsters who have come in. Shaun Pejic has been generally good, Craig Morgan has adapted well to playing in all three centre back positions while Matty Crowell is also just 18 but they have all come in to give us something extra.
'They have shown we have some depth to the squad that we possibly didn't know we had.
'I don't like losing and the lads are upset as they have got into a habit of not losing, which is good. It's something we continue to instil in them, whether it's five-a-side or a cricket match on the beach.'
Smith will now turn his attention to a friendly against West Bromwich Albion, who were due to visit the Racecourse on Tuesday, as the Mail went to press.
The Wrexham boss looked likely to recall Carlos Edwards, who was rested for the trip to the Isle of Man, and Steve Roberts.
Meanwhile, Premiership giants Leeds United are reported to have sent a scout to watch the highly-rated Morgan on Saturday - the 18-year-old's assured performance will ensure that speculation about his future will continue.
by STEFAN JARMOLOWICZ
Russell's 12-man squad, made up of players from the North Wales League Premier Division, will be: Phil Davies (captain) - Pontblyddyn Gareth Davies - Mochdre Gareth Williams - Northop Stewart Williams - Brymbo Rhys Jones - Pontblyddyn Mark Poynton - Northop Russell Wiseman - Mold Robbie Marshall - Bangor Chris Campbell - Marchwiel and Wrexham Dafydd Rhys - Brymbo Craig Wilson - Hawarden Park Craig Hughe- Brymbo