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13 September 2013

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Ten-man Town slipped to only their second defeat of the season as they went down 2-0 at the Racecourse in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Back-post efforts in either half from the Red Dragons’ Andy Bishop and Joe Clarke inflicted yet another defeat for the Hatters in this corner of North Wales. 

The Town have now lost 15 of their 23 visits to the Racecourse, and their misery was completed 10 minutes before the end when substitute Alex Wall was shown a straight red card for stamping Wrexham captain Neil Ashton.

It all began after some early pressure from the hosts, but the Hatters – showing two changes to the side that drew with Grimsby, with Shaun Whalley and Mark Cullen given starts in the place of Alex Lacey and Andre Gray – had the best of the openings of a frustrating first half.

Jonathan Smith warmed the gloves of Wrexham goalkeeper Joslain Mayebi on seven minutes after a flowing Town move had opened up the home defence.

As the Hatters searched for the lead, they had the ball in the Dragons’ net 11 minutes later, but Cullen’s deft finish – having read Paul Benson’s flick-on – was ruled out for offside.

Clear-cut chances were at a real premium for either side, but three minutes after Cullen’s disallowed strike, Wrexham were ahead. The Town allowed Ashton to arch a dangerous left-wing cross to the back-post where Bishop was on hand to finish well past an exposed Mark Tyler.

Hurt by going behind, the Hatters responded. Smith rifled a shot into the arms of Mayebi on 28 minutes and, after Tyler had held an ambitious effort from David Artell on 35 minutes, the Town ended the first 45 minutes on top.

A lovely one-touch move on 39 minutes saw Jake Howells unceremoniously barged off the ball on the edge of the box and Whalley wasn’t far away from finding the target with a right-foot free-kick that whistled just over the crossbar.

A minute later Benson almost sniffed out a chance from nothing when reacting to a terrible back-pass from Stephen Wright that sold Mayebi short. However, the goalkeeper did well to snuff out the striker’s effort inside the six-yard box and spare Wright’s blushes.

The final chance of the half came after more good football from the Town. Howells broke forward down the left and threaded a pass through to Cullen unmarked in the hosts’ penalty area but, after taking one touch, the striker’s effort was smothered by Mayebi.

The Hatters pressure continued after the restart. A right-wing corner from Howells was half-cleared to Smith on the edge of the box and the midfielder’s low shot was blocked as it the ball hurtled towards goal.

Three minute later Whalley’s right-wing cross found Cullen in space in the penalty area but his header was off way off target from distance.

However, following that chance the Hatters’ evening took a turn for the worse on 55 minutes. Wrexham had been threatening with a spell of pressure and they doubled their lead when Clarke rose at the back-post following another deep cross from the opposite flank.

Two goals down and a mountain to climb, John Still made a double substitution shortly after the hour, introducing Alex Lawless, for his first appearance of the season, and Wall, for Whalley and Cullen respectively.

The Hatters huffed and puffed as they went in search of a way back into the game but there efforts were made even tougher 10 minutes from time when substitute Wall was sent-off for a stamp on home defender Ashton.

A man down and two goals behind the Town were finding it increasingly difficult to carve out a decent opportunity.

Wrexham came close to a third in the closing stages but in the end the hosts comfortably held on to their two-goal advantage.

WREXHAM: Mayebi, Wright (sub Ntame 46), Ashton, Clarke, Harris, Bishop, Ormerod, Tomassen, Hunt, Bailey-Jones, Artell. 

Subs not used: Coughlin, Morrell, Carrington.

TOWN: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Parry; Howells (sub Gray 72), Whalley (sub Lawless 61), Smith, Guttridge, Cullen (sub Wall 61), Benson.

Subs not used: Justham, Stevenson.

ATTENDANCE: 3,122 including 190 from the Town.

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