Ten men Lambs MUST win final game to survive as Wrexham hit four
25 April 2011
And so to the penultimate match of the season with fraught nerves in both camps for entirely different reasons at The Racecourse ground as Dale Belford took the Lambs to face Wrexham.
While the home side were actively looking for a way to ensure their survival from a monetary perspective with a £200,000 tax bill looming, increasing ticket prices for some areas of the ground for home fans and with Wrexham Supporters Trust also getting involved, Belford and his team knew that nothing less than a win against the playoff chasing Dragons was what was required to ease but not rule out the threat of relegation.
The Lambs caretaker boss was forced to change the side that had suffered defeat against Southport with Christian Smith ruled out as he is on loan from the Welsh club, and Richard Tait, Michael Wylde and Liam Mitchell all suspended after seeing red on Saturday.
Kyle Perry was not unavailable, despite thoughts he may be after reaching the cumulative yellow card total in the same game, and so started alongside Jason Bradley, while Aaron Mitchell and Daniel Bradley started with Louis Connor wearing the gloves in goal.
And after being absent from the last few team sheets, for off rather than on the field reasons, Neil MacKenzie made a return to the squad on the bench, taking a place alongside Aaron Farrell, Seb Lake-Gaskin, Jevaise Christie and Belford himself.
And so in glorious bank holiday sunshine and wearing the blue away kit for the final time on 2010-11, The Lambs completed their pre-match huddle as the home side kicked off towards the Eric Roberts stand.
On 2 Connor came out to try and collect a high ball under pressure near the edge of the area but missed his catch and Pogba struck for goal but found Marshall in his way.
Wilkinson found space in the box on the left on 5 and rifled a shot into the side netting and on 7 Barrow forced a corner on the right which Thomas struck right footed but when Marshall received the ball from Creighton's clearance he could only put it back into the arms of Maxwell.
Daniel Bradley fouled Obeng on the right and got a talking to from the ref on 8 giving Keates the freekick on the right wing which almost sneaked in at the far post with Connor at full stretch, but he got a finger tip to it and conceded the corner on the left which came to nothing.
Wrexham took the lead on 10 when a long ball into the box from Obeng sneaked through past Connor and bounced into the far corner perhaps with a slight touch to help it in and with Southport taking the lead against Darlington, this put the Lambs in the bottom four for the first time this season. (0-1, 10 mins)
For the next five minutes the ball rarely made it's way over the half way line and the Tamworth defence worked hard to keep the ball away from the area, but Connor did have to come and collect a searching ball into the box on 17 as the Lambs back four played high up field to try and catch Wrexham off side.
Tamworth enjoyed more possession for the next five minutes, with Perry and Jason Bradley looking to capitalise on any half chances that came their way, but Maxwell was not tested during this time.
Pogba pulled up while trying to win the ball in the centre of the Lambs half on 24 and fell to the floor clutching his right leg, allowing a drinks break, before he hobbled from the field a substitution was made.
Wrexham went on the attack quickly in the next move and won a left sided corner which had barely been taken when Marshall was brought down by Blackburn to halt play.
Sinclair picked up a yellow card following a foul on Perry on the half way line, but the resultant freekick went straight to Maxwell and Wrexham exerted pressure on the final third of the field which The Lambs tried to turn into attack, but Jason Bradley's final touch of the haphazard move in the area was not the greatest and the ball ran out behind for a goal kick.
A ball into the area from the left was headed at goal by Knight-Percival and forced a good save from Connor and although Keates put the ball into the net, the linesman flagged for handball as the home crowd celebrated and the goal did not stand.
Tamworth countered and won two corners in quick succession but nothing came of them. Then Marshall was bundled over and as he received treatment both managers passed on tactics as the players rehydrated.
Sheridan went for a high ball into the box from Thomas on 38 and came out of the challenge limping somewhat before Connor was called into action to hold a long ball into his box.
Tamworth's first clear cut chance of the afternoon came on 40 when Jason Bradley picked his spot from 18 yards in a central position, but missed the target.
Inside the final minute before added time Wrexham won a corner on the left and Keates put the ball into the area only for the Lambs to win possession and push forward. Thomas saw his half chance shot blocked as two minutes extra was shown and the home side cleared their lines.
Tamworth for the second half underway but escaped a close call when three Wrexham players lined up shots in succession where they found Lambs defenders in the way.
A foul on the right touchline near the corner flag gave the home side a freekick on 50 and Dan Bradley headed it away and behind for a corner on the other side which Mangan over hit, but Wrexham kept possession and the same player almost got a head onto a deep ball to the far post with Courtney covering.
Marshall stole the ball off the feet of the Wrexham attack but the home side kept on coming and when Connor parried a hopeful cross box shot Knight-Percival pounced on the rebound to slide the ball home (0-2, 53 mins)
Sheridan hit a powerful rising shot over the bar in the move from the restart, and deep freekick by the home side saw Connor take the ball but drop it under a challenge and the linesman duly flagged for the foul.
Tamworth then won a corner and Dan Bradley glanced home a near post header to reduce the arrears (1-2, 57 mins)
Belford made a double substitution before Wrexham restarted to put fresh legs on the field in the guise of MacKenzie and Farrell but Wrexham won a corner on the hour when Ashton's shot deflected high over the bar and Keates whipped the ball in only to see Knight-Percival miss his far post header.
Dean Saunders made his third change on 61 and Mitchell was then sent from the field of play for a two footed tackle on Wrexham's Harris, who was unable to continue, and so both sides went into the final 25 with ten men.
Tamworth then capitulated when Mangan made light work of finding a chink in the defence to fire a very powerful low drive into the back of the net from the right of the box (1-3, 69 mins)
With Darlington equalising at Southport, they, The Lambs and Forest Green all sat on 46 points with 20 to go and Altrincham were also winning putting them on 44.
Tamworth escaped conceding a fourth goal on 77 when Keates, Taylor and Mangan had shots on target first forcing Connor into a good save and then seeing Marshall clear the ball out from the goal line inside the right hand post. But Taylor scored an absolute beauty with a driven right footed strike into the far corner from the right of the box in the next move - with Connor exposed and helpless to deny him. (1-4, 79 mins)
Perry pulled one back on 81 shuffling his marker off his back and advancing at goal before slotting past Maxwell with consummate ease (2-4, 81 mins)
The home side looked for a fifth on 87 when Taylor appeared unmarked at the far post but Dan Bradley and Connor combined to prevent him heading home and a minute later Knight-Percival rolled a straight shot from 20 yards wide of the mark.
With Farrell down with cramp inside the final minute, play was briefly halted as five minutes added time was shown by the fourth official.
Perry almost pulled another back with a curling header from a left wing ball which went narrowly wide of the left hand upright.
Connor had to be treated for cramp in the final seconds which angered the home fans somewhat, but just got them singing loudly and Belford came on to become the only Lamb to feature in four consecutive decades. Meanwhile Degsy Bond was asked to leave the dugout area by the referee.
Belford had to play the last few seconds with no gloves as Connor had left the pitch without them and as the whistle went, the Wrexham fans flooded onto the pitch.
Connor (Belford 90+), Marshall, Courtney (MacKenzie 58), Mitchell A, Perry, Thomas (Farrell 58), Sheridan, Bradley J, Bradley D, Barrow, Wilkinson
Subs: Christie, Lake-Gaskin
Red Cards: Mitchell 63
Maxwell, Obeng, Ashton, Blackburn, Harris, Taylor, Mangan, Keates, Sinclair (Andrews 55), Creighton (Fowler 61), Pogba (Knight-Percival 26)
Subs: Mayebi, Tolley
Yellow Cards: Sinclair 30, Keates 33
Referee: D. Handley