WREXHAM manager Denis Smith could not have asked for - or received - more from his players in a morale-boosting 3-0 victory over Grimsby Town on Saturday, but he admitted his pre-match appeal to stay-away fans had fallen on deaf ears.
A Racecourse attendance of 3,127 was the lowest of the day in the Second Division and even Nationwide Conference neighbours Chester City attracted more spectators.
The Dragons boss made it clear he believed that the revelations of fresh financial problems at the Racecourse had not helped the situation but conceded that the club would continue to struggle in the face of apathy and disinterest.
"After the week the players have had and with the rubbish that's been going on around the club, I said they would have to show a lot of character and they've done that," he said.
"You find out about people when things are not good. Anyone can be good when things are going well but when they are not exactly as you would like, you find about people and their true colours.
"That shone through today and I was very, very pleased with the way they went about their job."
Wrexham's failure to play the players' wages on time for the third time this season, a cash-flow problem merely symptomatic of a relentless battle to balance the books, didn't provoke a response from casual football supporters.
And Smith added: "The negative stuff hasn't brought the crowds in, has it? Those who were not here missed some great goals but they can watch them on television.
"We would like people to come. Our performances at home haven't been as good as we would have liked. We have to accept that, but it's still a low gate.
"This time last season we started to hit a run and hopefully we can do it again. It doesn't take a genius to work out that if the gates are poor, no matter how small the wage bill is - and our wage bill is small compared to most in the division - then you are going to have financial problems."
As Smith pointed out, Wrexham's runin to promotion last year brought a dramatic increase in the number of fans attending the last three home matches but the club's pursuit of an equally successful conclusion to the current campaign has, thus far, failed to fire the public's imagination, even though the Dragons are within two points of a play-off spot.
One reason, perhaps, is that occasional fans are as inconsistent as the level of performances witnessed at the Racecourse this season and the manner of Saturday's ultimately comfortable victory provided further evidence that the confidence factor on the field is equally as important as the skill and effort of the players.
Although Wrexham were clearly the better side during the opening exchanges, it was not until Matt Crowell's gem of a goal that collectively they relaxed and their training ground routines rather than their match-day nerves were uppermost in the mind.
Two minutes later and another two goals to the good it was job done for the Dragons, who commendably settled for the three points by then smothering the best efforts of the opposition to stage the sort of dramatic fightback that has occurred elsewhere on more than one occasion this season.
For the second week running, teenager Crowell won the sponsors' man-of-the-match verdict and the Wales under-21 international certainly oozed the precocious confidence of youth during the opening 45 minutes.
But fellow rookies Shaun Pejic and Craig Morgan were not far behind him, their lack of experience proving irrelevant as they delivered the measured and assured performance the occasion demanded.
Notwithstanding the off-field turmoil, Wrexham hadn't won in their last three outings and were in danger of slipping out of an increasingly competitive race for play-off places. And recent games against sides struggling at the opposite end of the table had, by and large, proved frustrating experiences for the Dragons and their fans.
No surprise then that early indications on Saturday were not exactly encouraging, Chris Llewellyn twice failing to put away reasonable chances in an opening 20 minutes which was dominated, possession-wise, by the home side.
Chris Armstrong (pictured above) was then foiled by an excellent save from Andy Pettinger as Wrexham's front two proved the value of intelligent running off the ball to pull away defenders from the vulnerable areas.
Grimsby's cause was not helped when Craig Armstrong, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, was forced to leave the field after 26 minutes but even his presence would have been unlikely to prevent a superbly-worked opening goal in the 33rd minute.
Crowell, earlier identified by Smith as the man to provide goals from midfield, opened his Wrexham account in fine style, playing a one-two with Jim Whitley to reach the edge of the penalty area from where he curled his shot beyond the keeper into the top corner of the net.
Two minutes later, the visitors' defence was caught horribly square and Armstrong needed no second bidding to race through the gap to meet Darren Ferguson's through ball before calmly clipping the ball over Pettinger as he tried to spread himself.
Worse was to come for Grimsby who, as Wrexham themselves did at Bournemouth last month, simply lost the plot and conceded another in the space of 60 seconds as Llewellyn romped away down the right and delivered an inviting low cross, which Armstrong tucked away for his seventh goal of the season.
The sparse crowd sensed the impossible - an Armstrong hat-trick in quicker time than Jamie Hayter's treble against the Dragons - and the striker went close, heading a Ferguson free-kick just wide of the goal as the home side enjoyed their purple patch.
The second half was always going to be an anti-climax, especially so when Grimsby's best chance of sparking a revival - Stuart Campbell's 48th-minute long-range shot - rebounded from the crossbar and into the arms of an underworked Andy Dibble.
On another afternoon Armstrong's failure to go round Pettinger and Morgan's unsuccessful header from Ferguson's corner would have seen the crowd baying for blood but there was never any danger of a nail-biting finale as Wrexham concentrated on preserving yet another clean sheet.
WREXHAM: Dibble; Pejic, Morgan, Lawrence; C Edwards, Whitley, Ferguson, Crowell (Barrett 84), Llewellyn (Sam 70), Chris Armstrong. Subs: Whitfield, Holmes, M Jones. BOOKING: Morgan, Crowell.
GRIMSBY TOWN: Pettinger; M Edwards, Crane, Craig Armstrong (Young 26), Barnard; Jevons, Daws, Hamilton, Campbell; Thorpe (Hockless 79), Mansaram (Soames 58). Subs: Parker, Bolder.
REFEREE: Brian Curson ATT: 3,127