Both sets of Reds get a good run out

Reporter:

Richard Williams

A COMPETITIVE friendly between Wrexham and a Liverpool XI failed to produce any goals at The Racecourse last night.

With Wrexham making their first home appearance of a busy pre-season programme, many supporters got their first glimpse of Dean Saunders’ summer signings and the encounter was not short of entertainment with both sides going close to finding the net.

Wrexham matched their opponents throughout and had it not been for better finishing the Reds could have clinched victory.

Liverpool may not have had the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres in action but the Premiership club’s bright young prospects gave a spirited display, particularly in the second half, that could have led to them taking the lead.

There were many positives to take from the friendly for Wrexham, who can expect to face a different style of opposition when the Conference season starts.

Having named a young side in the friendly victory at Suffolk outfit AFC Sudbury the previous evening, Saunders named a strong team that included trialist Jay Harris.

Midfielder Harris was involved in the same betting scandal as Wrexham striker Andy Mangan when the pair were at Accrington Stanley but the 23-year-old has now completed a 12 month suspension handed out by the Football Association after he moved onto Chester City.

With Roy Hodgson taking charge of his first match as Liverpool manager against Grasshoppers in a separate friendly, a number of reserve team players expected to feature against Wrexham were in Switzerland to fill in for the absent international stars given extra time to recover from their World Cup exploits.

The inexperienced Liverpool side at The Racecourse, managed by former Shrewsbury Town coach John McMahon, was made up of youngsters with 20-year-old Spanish defender Emmanuel Mendy the oldest player on duty.

There was a minute silence before kick-off in memory of former Wrexham manager Ken Barnes who died last week.

The first chance of the game fell to Wrexham after just two minutes but Andy Morrell headed wide from Harris’ cross.

Wrexham had an even better opportunity to take the lead just five minutes later when Nat Knight-Percival dispossessed John Flangan and fed an unmarked Kevin Gall who fired wide from ten yards.

The Liverpool side clearly contained talented players, many of whom are youth internationals from around Europe, and Jesus Fernandez threaded a pass through for Nikola Saric who evaded Frank Sinclair but saw his shot saved by keeper Chris Maxwell.

Morrell volleyed wide from Knight-Percival's cross as Wrexham continued to prise openings after trying to get the ball down and play football in a bid to break the visitors down.

But a mistake in the 24th minute almost proved costly when Neil Ashton's weak back header was seized upon by Toni Silva but Maxwell was on hand to block the winger's effort for a corner.

Wrexham came close to breaking the deadlock four minutes before the break following Ashton's excellent free-kick from the left flank but Sinclair's header narrowly cleared the bar.

Eager to start giving his players more time on the pitch, Saunders only made one change for the start of the second half with trialist Jamie Tolley replacing Dean Keates in the middle of midfield.

Wrexham conceded a needless free-kick just four minutes after the restart as Maxwell gathered Sinclair's back-pass but Vincent Weijl's free-kick from inside the
area cleared the bar.

Maxwell did well to save Fernandez's powerful drive as Liverpool, looking more lively, continued to up the tempo while Saunders began to make more substitutions as the half progressed.

Andy Mangan's volley was comfortably saved by Liverpool keeper Dean Bouzanis after 60 minutes but the Reds had to work hard defensively to keep the impressive visitors at bay as they surged forward at every opportunity.

Mangan also latched onto Matthew McGoveron's poor backpass but he was thwarted as he attempted to round Bouzanis who recovered the situation, and that was the last chance to snatch victory.

WREXHAM (4-4-2): Maxwell; Walker (Obeng 68), Blackburn, Sinclair (Smith 67), Ashton (Hunt 56); Gall, Harris (Mawer 71), Keates (Tolley 46), Knight-Percival (Cieslewicz 80); Mangan, Morrell (Brown 56).

LIVERPOOL XI (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Flanagan (Giglio 64), Wisdom , Coady, Mendy (Sokilic 83); Silva (Hatch 86), Kohlert (Roberts 46), Cooper, Weijl; Fernandez (McGoveron 71), Saric (Ngoo 46).

Referee: L Evans.

Attendance: 2,000. 

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