December 3, 2014
WREXHAM AFC 0. V. 0. BRISTOL ROVERS
If you want drama and controversy, come to the Racecourse.
Twice in as many weeks the Dragons have had an advantage at home and twice the man in black has taken it away from him.
After the Altrincham debacle, last night Bristol Rovers had their centre-half playing in goal before man in black Ross Joyce thought Rob Evans’ tackle was worth a red.
Put it this way, Radio Bristol originally thought their man had been sent off and were baffled that it was Evans.
That killed the game as an attacking force for the Dragons, but they showed plenty of spirit, hard-running and good defending to keep Rovers out at the other end.
Wilkin sprang a surprise by recalling fit-again Dan Bachmann after months out with knee ligament damage, especially as there was no keeper on the bench should it go wrong. It wasn’t the Dragons who needed to worry about that, but more of that later.
And in truth the Dragons started where they left off against Aldershot on Saturday, forcing the play with the pace of Wes York up front and Connor Jennings employed down the left of midfield.
However Joe Clarke’s wayward long-ranger after seven minutes was all they really had to show for early endeavour, until Bishop flicked on to York who set up the on-rushing Mark Carrington to skew a shot just wide four minutes later.
But the move of the half came on 10 minutes later. With Rovers’s Lyle Della-Verde crocked – they weren’t having much luck – the Dragons kept going and when the ball came to Neil Ashton he sped past the stricken midfielder before playing in a great cross that was volleyed just over by Andy Bishop.
However the strike of the half came moments after when Evans picked the ball up 35-yards from goal and unleashed a piledriver that beat Steve Mildenhall, but not the bar which the ball clipped on the way through.
And still the Dragons pushed with Carrington seeing his effort deflect over and Bishop heading directly into the hands of Mildenhall from the resulting corner.
However there was a warning from Rovers soon after when Andy Monkhouse’s cross saw Bachmann and Nathan Blissett get in a tangle with the striker winning the battle but knocking the ball just wide.
When more pressing by Carrington saw a clearance charged down, the ball fell to Bishop and flicked it passed the on-rushing keeper, but it didn’t have enough power to reach the net and was easily cleared.
Mildenhall was injured in that little tet-a-tet and looked decidedly tentative after that, with the central defender having to take the goal kicks. In fact didn’t last much longer with captain McChrystal going in goal and Neil Trotman replacing him at the back.
Rovers had their best chance after that, but Balanta’s shot was held by Bachmann and in fairness the visitors successfully kept the ball away from McChrystal for the seven minutes of added time in the half.
But just when everything seemed to be going Wrexham’s way, disaster struck just before the half-time whistle. The industrious Evans was flying into tackles and when he went in hard on Matt Taylor it seemed a yellow at most.
However with Taylor rolling across the floor, referee Joyce thought otherwise and the young midfielder, having an impressive game, was off.
It made for an interesting second half and in fairness York got away from the Rovers defence minutes in but McChrystal did well to repel his effort.
Manny Smith nearly had his head taken off by Nathan Blissett – just a booking and a free-kick hammered into the wall – before Ashton curled another dead ball just past the post.
Rovers best effort came when Blissett high ball was repelled by Bachmann and Ross White blocked superbly from Monkhouse’s follow-up.
The less we say about Angelo Balanta’s shot with 20 minutes to go, the better after he was teed-up by left-back Lee Brown who was having more of an influence on the match.
Bachmann saved an admittedly weak Balanta shot and the winger went sprawling minutes later but for once Joyce was unimpressed.
But he wasn’t when sub Elliott Durrell mis-controlled on the edge of the box and took down Monkhouse. Sub Alex Wall beat the wall, but not the bar and it was still shaking as Bachmann grabbed the rebound.
Durrell should have done better with a header in a rare Dragons attack soon after but the game looked to be headed towards a draw despite a late bombardment of McChrystal from the Dragons.
But the damage had already been done.
Wrexham (4-4-2): Bachmann, White, Smith, Hudson, Ashton, Carrington, Evans, Clarke ©, York (Durrell 70), Jennings, Bishop (Moult 88). Subs: Harris, Tomassen, Thompson.
Sent off: Evans
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Mildenhall (Trotman 43), Lockyer, Parkes, McChrystal ©, Brown, Monkhouse, Sinclair, Mansell, Della-Verde (Balanta 24) Taylor, Blissett (Wall 71). Subs: Goldberg, Clarke.
Booked: Blissett, Taylor
Referee: Ross Joyce
(Adapted From Wales Online With Thanks.)
Man of the match: Connor Jennings. Never stopped running for the Dragons. So industriuous