WREXHAM came down to earth with a bump as they were beaten 3-0 by Forest Green Rovers at The New Lawn – Dean Saunders’ heaviest defeat since taking charge of the Reds nearly two years ago.
Expectations were high following the opening day victory against Cambridge United, and the manner of the performance, had given renewed optimism that Saunders’ new look Wrexham could go on and mount a genuine promotion challenge this season.
But many supporters would suggest there is still plenty of work to do after Saunders suffered the heaviest defeat since he was installed as manager in October 2008.
Wrexham started poorly, created very little thoughout the game and Forest Green Rovers, who began the new Conference campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Mansfield Town, were well worth their victory.
For the majority of the first half, disjointed Wrexham failed to reproduce the kind of performance that led to that win against Cambridge.
The Reds struggled to get into the game as Forest Green stopped them playing and were the better side.
The home side continually frustrated Wrexham and looked the more dangerous going forward, and they were rewarded for their efforts by taking the lead on 20 minutes.
Wrexham had failed to put Forest Green’s back-line under any pressure and did not look like scoring after failing to create anything until the closing minutes of the half when they finally began to threaten an equaliser.
The Reds needed to raise their game and although they enjoyed their fair share of possession and were getting bodies forward, they found it difficult to create scoring chances.
Forest Green were holding their own and were happy to sit back as the second half wore on in an attempt to hang onto their lead.
Wrexham couldn’t afford to go further behind but they conceded a second goal in the 75th minute, and there was no chance of a comeback as Forest Green went on to score a third.
It means that for a third consecutive season since they were relegated to the Conference, the Reds have lost their second game after winning on the opening day of the season.
Wrexham will now look to get back on track at Eastbourne Borough on Saturday.
Following that opening day win against Cambridge, it was no surprise that Saunders named an unchanged starting line-up.
There was one switch on the substitutes’ bench with former Rangers centre-back Marvin Andrews, who has joined Wrexham on a deal until January, taking over from Christian Smith.
It was a scrappy start to the game with Forest Green settling quicker than Wrexham who had not been allowed to get the ball down and construct any meaningful attacks.
The first scoring opportunity fell to Forest Green in the 15th minute when a sloppy pass was intercepted by Yan Klukowski who threaded a pass through for James Norwood but his drive was brilliantly tipped away by Reds’ keeper Scott Shearer.
And from the resulting corner, Shearer was again on hand to keep out Luke Jones’ header as Forest Green continued to pressure.
Wrexham’s first attempt on goal came from David Brown, a former Forest Green player, assistant manager and caretaker boss, but his 20-yard drive cleared the bar.
It had not been a convincing start from Wrexham, and Forest Green, who had dominated proceedings, capitalised by taking a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Lee Smith sent in a teasing cross from the right flank and an unmarked Reece Styche planted his header beyond Shearer.
It was no more than they deserved and a weak Smith effort was also saved by Shearer following more uncertainty in the Reds' defence.
Wrexham started to pick out passes with half-time looming, leading to a blocked shot from Dean Keates, and the Reds’ captain also delivered a free-kick that Frank Sinclair headed onto the roof of the net from a tight ankle.
With Wrexham enjoying a strong finish to the half, Andy Morrell’s close range effort was deflected wide for a corner from which Nat Knight-Percival's header in added time hit Lee Fowler on the line.
The momentum was still with Wrexham from the restart and Brown fed Andy Mangan who cut inside and saw his low drive saved by keeper James Bittner at his near post after 50 minutes.
But a quickly taken Norwood throw-in at the other end caused plenty of problems in the Reds’ defence and Mike Fowler fired over with just Shearer to beat.
Gareth Taylor replaced Brown on the hour mark in an attempt to bolster Wrexham’s attack but with Forest Green holding firm at the back, they counter attacked in search of a second goal.
Wrexham hadn’t given up hope and Morrell’s off-target struck Taylor and rebounded into the Morrell but he was unable to steer the loose ball past Bittner.
But Forest Green took a 2-0 lead after 75 minutes, Lee Fowler delivering a corner that Jones headed into the net from close range.
And there was no way back for Wrexham as they conceded a third goal five minutes later, Lee Fowler threatening a pass through for Klukowski who fired past Shearer.
Knight-Percival fired over in added time but that would have been scant consolation.