WREXHAM manager Brian Carey suffered an indignity similar to that heaped on countless previous Racecourse bosses when he watched and heard his players being booed from the field on Saturday.
The big Irishman at least had the humility afterwards to admit that the barracking was no less than the Dragons deserved following a performance that in terms of ineptitude ranked higher on the scale than many of last season’s more woeful outings.
And he conceded that the paying public had not been given value for money by a display that if described as pedestrian would be an exaggeration on an afternoon when a workmanlike Hereford United side created only two chances, but converted them both to pocket all three points and maintain their unbeaten start to the League Two campaign.
Visiting boss Graham Turner, a one-man band, to say nothing of being chief cook and bottle washer at Edgar Street, was happy to admit as much when he emerged from a very happy away dressing room at the conclusion of the match.
“There wasn’t much to choose between the teams today, but we made a break to get the first goal and we grew in confidence after that,” he said.
“We defended well at times and we had to do so in numbers as Wrexham pressed for an equaliser so at the end we have got to be pleased with eight points from four games and we have yet to win at home.
“We’ve got one or two lively players who are quick and can cause any team problems as we showed against a strong Birmingham on Tuesday night.
“And for a change we have a fair bit of experience alongside the younger players and it’s working quite well for us at the moment.
“It’s early days, but I’d rather have eight points than three because it gives the lads a bit of belief and boosts confidence.”
Turner’s less than effusive praise for his own team’s efforts must be cold comfort for Carey in the days ahead.
And it came on the back of Daily Post columnist Barry Horne’s somewhat critical analysis of Wrexham following their midweek Carling Cup performance against Aston Villa, his views ruffling more than a few feathers at the club’s Colliers Park training facility.
The former Wales and Everton midfielder claimed there was little evidence of improvement on the previous campaign and that the club’s Football League survival owed more to the shortcomings of Boston and Torquay than their own efforts to avoid the drop.
It’s not a situation Carey would choose to revisit this season or any other, yet a blank weekend ahead due to international commitments will do nothing at all to improve Wrexham’s lowly league position before early front-runners Rotherham United visit the Racecourse on September 15.
And the growing perception is that the inexperienced boss has yet to make the most of the relatively large squad of players at his disposal, although the sight of Wales international Steve Evans lining up for his first league start of the season was a step in the right direction.
It wasn’t Carey’s fault that the big defender’s return lasted just 17 minutes before he suffered a recurrence of a close-season ankle ligaments injury, but as long as the club’s most prolific goal scorer Eifion Williams is confined to a substitute role it remains difficult to discern the manager’s thinking.
The Bangor-born striker made an immediate difference when he replaced Michael Proctor on Saturday and was deployed for the first time as an out and out striker instead of operating on one of the flanks.
But it’s early days, of course, and the Dragons boss, who still has plenty of time to get it right, will be hoping that recently arrived midfielder Silvio Spann turns out to be the link that has been missing since Darren Ferguson moved on to Peterborough United.
Despite his own international credentials, Mark Jones has looked like a fish out of water thus far, his present poor form massively increasing the burden on Danny Williams at the heart of the team, while captain Neil Roberts, for all his commitment, is another home-grown product who might feel less than satisfied with his input against United.
So too Richard Hope, who has yet to live up to the reputation he established with neighbours Shrewsbury Town as a solid and reliable bulwark at the back and another couple of costly errors in his latest outing suggest there is plenty more still to come from him.
There was little hint during the opening stages of the disappointment in store, despite the frustration of Matty Done regularly beating his man but failing to match his dribbling skills with any accuracy from his final delivery.
But he was not the only player whose application was wanting, with sloppy errors in abundance and few goalmouth incidents to break up the monotony of watching the visitors keep plenty of men behind the ball in the opening 45 minutes.
Roberts, never short on enthusiasm, was a tad unfortunate on a couple of occasions that almost represented half-chances and a Hope header from a Mark Jones corner was blocked, but it was after the break that the match was lost.
From the restart Proctor reacted quickest to a quickly-taken Jones free kick but his touch, if indeed he got one, was minimal and the ball raced across the six yard box to defender Dean Beckwith who was relived to concede a corner.
But just as the home fans were beginning to wake up, United went ahead, taking full advantage of a less than alert Dragons defence. Loan signings Toumani Diagouraga and Theo Robinson, both from Watford, made the break and when Robinson got beyond goalkeeper Anthony Williams his shot was blocked on the line by Hope.
The rebound though was hammered home by Kris Taylor to save the defender from being sent off for handball, referee Phil Dowd deciding that a caution was punishment enough.
Carey’s first changes, with Williams and Michael Carvill coming off the bench, almost produced an immediate dividend, the striker meeting the teenager’s low cross to force an instinctive save from Wayne Brown – his first of the game.
Williams went on to have another couple of efforts that tested the former Chester keeper, but Wrexham’s attempts to get back on terms were less than convincing and rendered even more irrelevant in the 74th minute.
Clint Easton’s cross from the left picked out substitute Trevor Banjamin at the near post and the experienced striker easily turned Hope before firing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.