Hatters grind out well-earned point in North Wales
The Town bounced back from Tuesday’s defeat against Hyde to pick up a well-earned point at title-chasing Wrexham.
In his on-going quest to look at every player at his current disposal, Still made five changes to the side that lost at home to Hyde on Tuesday. There was no captain Ronnie Henry – Steve McNulty took over the captain’s armband – whilst Andre Gray also missed out. There were starts for Simon Ainge, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Arnaud Mendy, Dave Martin and Scott Rendell. Jon Shaw and new signing Solomon Taiwo were on the bench.
It was the Town that started the brighter and twice came close to taking the lead inside the first eight minutes. Firstly Alex Wall used to his pace to speed past home skipper Chris Westwood to cross for Scott Rendell in the six yard box, but Martin Riley was on hand to clear the danger. From the resultant left-wing corner from Martin, McNulty’s header was cleared off the line by Johnny Hunt.
Wall was proving to be a right pest for the Wrexham defence and in the opening 15 minutes it was the Town playing the better of the football.
Up until that point Mark Tyler had barely had a touch but that changed on 17 minute s when the Hatters goalkeeper did well to keep out Danny Wright’s drive from the edge of the area.
Buoyed by that effort the Red Dragons upped the ante. Veteran striker Dele Adebola beat McNulty for pace down the left to race into the penalty area and only a fine stop by Tyler’s foot prevented the net from bulging. From the corner that followed, Jonathan Smith cleared Adebola’s header off the line.
Wrexham, knowing a win would take them back to the top of the table, began to turn the screw, and McNulty did well to block a goal-bound shot from Ormerod before the same player drew a fine stop from Tyler having been found well by Adebola’s intelligent lay-off on 35 minutes.
Two minutes later the Town were indebted to another goal-line clearance to stop the hosts taking the lead when Lathaniel Rowe-Turner got in the way of Riley’s towering header following a right-wing corner.
As half-time approached Wall again got the better of home skipper Westwood to race into the box but couldn’t pick out Rendell, before Wall’s cross-field pass found Martin but he was only able to send a cross-cum-shot into the hands of Chris Maxwell in the home goal.
The second half took its time to get going, indeed it wasn’t until 11 minutes after the restart that there was a chance of note. The Hatters needed a brave block from Jake Goodman to stop Kevin Thornton’s effort from the edge of the area. Moments later Wall broke down the right to tee-up a chance for Martin but his low shot was blocked Stephen Wright.
Wright then headed over for the hosts on the hour following a shot free-kick routine that led Arnaud Mendy going in the book for a foul on Thornton.
The home fans celebrated two minutes later when they thought Danny Wright’s back-post header sailed just wide before Still made a double substitution on 63 minutes, sending on Taiwo, for his debut, and Dan Walker on for Rendell and Wall.
With the home support getting frustrated the Town continued to hold firm as the rain poured down. A burst forward from Joe Clarke paved an opening for Adebola on 66 minutes but his low shot from 10 yards was comfortable for Tyler to save.
The Hatters were doing well containing the hosts’ threat and Walker almost carved out a chance on the counter but a last-ditch interception prevented his cross from reaching Howells and Taiwo in the six-yard box.
Wrexham player/boss Andy Morrell introduced home crowd favourite Adrian Cieslewicz with 11 minutes left and within a minute of his introduction he engineered a chance that eventually led to Stephen Wright heading high and wide.
Howells warmed the gloves of Maxwell a minute later as the Town pushed for a winner before Tyler tipped over an Adebola header which he nodded into the ground with five minutes left.
It was hearts in mouths time for the Town on the 90th minute when defender Riley swept an effort beyond Tyler but to the relief of the visitors an offside flag appeared and it stayed 0-0.
After four added minutes were shown, Walker had a glorious chance to win it for the Town on 92 minutes, battling his way into the box before hitting a left-foot shot that Maxwell saved with his legs.
Wrexham threw everything forward in the final minute but the Hatters held onto secure a fine point and clean sheet on the road.