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97/98: Reports:

Nationwide League Division 2, 2/12/97
Wrexham 1(0)
Scorers: McGregor (89)
Watford 1(0)
Team: Chamberlain 3, Palmer 3, Kennedy 3, Millen 3, Page 4, *Mooney 4*, Noel-Williams 3, Hyde 3, Thomas 2, Johnson 4, Rosenthal 3
Subs: Gibbs (for Palmer) 3, Robinson (for Thomas) 3, Easton
Scorers: Rosenthal (72)
Report by Adrian Spender

I'm having a hard time trying to think what to write about this game. Last season, an away draw on a cold Tuesday night in North Wales would have been regarded as a good result. However, with the 'Orns riding high and according to many already with the championship in the bag, a 1-1 draw may be seen as disappointing.

In many ways it was. But only due to the nature in which Wrexham equalised, coming as it did in an extended period of injury time, applied by the referee despite the fact that neither physio had entered the field of play, and neither side had attempted any time wasting. However, walking (make that shivering) away from the ground I had to admit that they deserved the point.

Having made a mad dash over the Pennines from Leeds I arrived a couple of minutes after the kick off to ascertain that the Horns were fielding an unchanged team, apart from the replacement of Gibbs by Palmer in the No. 2 shirt. The first half saw the Wrexham attack applying pressure, especially down the flanks, and Chamberlain had a few (admittedly routine) saves to make. Whilst the Wrexham wingers had the beating of Mooney and Palmer, the centre of defence remained solid. One notable point was a superb tackle by Mooney when a Wrexham player was faced with an open goal.

At the other end Watford chances were few and far between, but notably Peter Kennedy had a screaming shot from just inside the area, hit with the power we tend to associate only with Johnno, but the 'keeper turned it out for a corner.

Half time came and went with most of the travelling contingent desperately trying to keep warm. Revenge was taken on Pete Fincham, who during the first half had nicked the hat of a ballboy behind the goal, when his own was swiped and chucked around the stand. Pete's attempts to retrieve the item certainly amused the stewards. There was also the welcome return of Gladys Protheroe, celebrating her 87th birthday.

The second half saw two tactical changes by GT. Gibbsy came on for Palmer and slotted into hid usual role, and Dai Thomas, who had been ineffective up front, was replaced by Robinson. This allowed Mooney to move up front and Ronny to move into a free role on the left. The benefits were clear as Watford started to control the game more. Gibbsy in particular seemed like a force attacking down the right, and it was his wicked cross, on 72 minutes, that led to the Watford goal. A good move saw Gifton (?) receive the ball on the right. Under pressure he played it back to the advancing Gibbs who hit a first time cross that swung away from Marriott and found the head of Ronny, who sent his header into the top right corner.

The rest of the half saw a few more Watford chances, but not a great deal of Wrexham ones. The travelling 'Orns spent most of the time trying to find out what was going on at Ashton Gate, and contemplating a 9 point lead. We were turned down on a justifiable penalty decision when Tommy was pulled back and to the ground, but the referee decided to take no action, probably because Tommy had already lost the ball.

However, nerves started to fray in the final minutes as the referee seemed intent on giving Wrexham enough time to score an equaliser. It finally came after a move that started when a Watford attack broke down. Tommy, inside the box, decided to dive to gain the penalty denied earlier. The ref took no notice, and Wrexham broke. The move ended with Mark McGregor's shot somehow finding its way through a mass of bodies into the Watford goal.

So, good result or bad? All I can say is that I don't think the two points we failed to gain (I refuse to use the term "the two points we lost" in the context of this game) will be the deciding factor in whether the 'Orns lift the second division championship this season.

Mooney wonderland
Report by Ian Lay

To the average man in the street you would be hard-pressed to explain why you would want to go from Watford to Wrexham on a Tuesday night to watch a football match. A long journey on a cold night, with the potential of seeing an uninspiring game of football. In fact many Watford supporters would question your sanity, but certainly not your loyalty. If it were for the football alone then I could understand and probably agree with them. But away matches are not all about football. It is the experience that matters. In some ways the football is irrelevent. To go home and away regularly there has to be something else, because even in the best of seasons you are going to see your team play badly and lose games.

In this case the game was reasonably enjoyable, the result was disappointing, but the day in total was excellent.

It started with a pick up by Rupe from Hounslow. We were joined there by Rob Hart and at Watford by Pete Fincham. A quick trip to Asda to pick up some munchies and alcohol and we were ready. By the time we got to Wrexham we were slightly merry and in a great mood.

We went to a pub near the ground. Directions being supplied by a local who was going to the same pub. We offered him a lift and he directed us round the back streets to the pub and we proceeded to have a couple of pints before venturing off to the ground.

The first half of the game was very even. Neither team really having a clear cut chance. But some excellent tackling on the edge of the box by Mooney and Page prevented Wrexham from conjuring up any useful shots on goal.

We were restricted to long range efforts. One from Palmer, another from Hyde and the best from Kennedy from 25 yards that got a deflection and went out for a corner. It looked like it was going into the top corner.

At half time GT made two changes. Palmer went off and Gibbs replaced him. Palmer had had a reasonable first half, but offers less attacking potential than Gibbs down the right flank. Robinson replaced Thomas, who had been fairly marked out of the game, and Mooney was pushed up front.

This enabled us to come out with a more attacking attitude and the game started to open up. Though from all the pressure that both sides exerted, it wasn’t until Rosenthal scored that either side really created a clear cut chance. Gibbs, just like at Northampton, was the provider. A cross from the right picked out Ronny at the back of the 6 yard area. He sent a looping header goal-bound which Marriot was unable to reach.

At the time we had just about deserved our lead. We’d made in-roads into a solid Wrexham defence and had become more and more threatening.

We nearly increased our lead a few minutes later when Johnson had a goal bound drive deflected over the bar for a corner.

Wrexham then had their best chance of the game so far, when Chamberlain pulled off a reflex save to his right to turn the ball around the post for a corner. I thought then that we would claim all three points, but it was not to be.

McGregor, cutting in from the right hand flank, went past Robinson and hit a low drive which seem to go through about five players and left Chamberlain with no chance.

This all happened in about the fourth minute of injury time. I actually don’t remember enough incidents to warrant that amount of added time. However, to be honest Wrexham deserved to get something from the game. They had defended stoutly, which they have done for a lot of the season, and they were more than capable going forward.

Before the game I would have settled for a draw, and I predicted that it would be 0-0 going on how tight both defences were.

Everyone had good/fair games. Thomas was the only disappointment. However, he was pretty well marked out of the game in the first half. The pick of the bunch were Johnson, Mooney and Page. Millen also had a fairly good return, but as a lot of the Wrexham approach work was done on the deck his heading ability (which is his strength) was not called on as much as in some games this season.

Mooney just about pipped Johnson for MOTM. He defended well in the first half and, when pushed up front in the second, his determination and powerful running always gave us hope of winning the game. He also had a very good shout for a penalty when he cut inside a defender on the edge of the box and seemed to be bundled over when he went past him. Up until that point the referee had had a good game, only that incident and the seemingly excessive amount of injury time blotted his copy book. But then again my watch might have been buggered!!

Pete Fincham was having great fun taking the pee out of Andy Marriot in the Wrexham goal in the second half. Certain comments about his sexuality were being thrown about. Andy took it in very good spirit, with plenty of smiles and the odd thumbs up. If only more keepers had the sense of humour he has.

On the way home we all took turns in sticking our head out of Rupe’s sunroof and getting a "rush" from the cold air in our faces at 70+ mph. An incredible feeling that everyone should try once in a while.

The evening was made complete though by Pete and Rob mooning at the Watford supporter’s coaches as we went down the M1. Lots of giggles from people inside the coach, and a look of disgust from Kate Holmes. Or maybe it was boredom. She obviously has been mooned by Pete before (Haven't we all? - Ed).

We then stopped at a service station for a pee, and mooned the coaches again when we got back on the motorway as they had passed us while we were stopped.

All in all a great day. For those who are Gifton-bashers at the moment, an example of why he is in the side ahead of Thomas when Lee is fit. Gifton, though not at his best, was always capable of creating something, which unfortunately last night Thomas wasn’t.

The result was disappointing. Mainly for the fact that we conceded a goal so late. Looked upon with no emotion, this was a useful point at a ground where a lot of teams have found, and will find, it hard this season. We do miss Lee’s presence upfront. But if you look at the results we’ve got since he’s been out, you’d have to be a pretty miserable git to realise that we haven’t done that badly.