Wrexham FC skipper in 'don't blame Dean' plea

Reporter:

Richard Williams

DEAN KEATES has leapt to the defence of manager Dean Saunders and insists that the Wrexham players have got to take more responsibility.

Despite taking a 2-0 lead after just six minutes, Wrexham allowed Kidderminster Harriers back into Tuesday’s clash at The Racecourse and were eventually held to a 2-2 draw.

It came on the back of two successive defeats at Eastbourne Borough and Forest Green Rovers and supporters made their feelings known at the final whistle as chants of ‘Saunders out’ rang around the ground.

But Reds captain Keates admitted the players have to shoulder the blame.

“People are entitled to their opinion,” said Keates. “Fans work and they pay their money. It just seems to be a bit premature after only four games.

“But the gaffer is big enough and man enough to take it.

“We want everyone to be pushing in the same direction, we are all aiming for the same thing.

“The gaffer works with us Monday to Friday and we know how good he is. But on the pitch, there is only so much he can do from the sidelines.

“It is up to us to take more responsibility. We know we have been making too many mistakes and we have got to cut them out.

“We will keep working hard. We have got to hang in there. There is still a long way to go but we need to get points back on the board.”

David Brown and Keates, who scored a sensational volley from the edge of the penalty area, gave Wrexham the perfect start against Kidderminster.

But Kidderminster took advantage of a defensive error to reduce the deficit on the stroke of half-time, and then capitalised on a mis-placed pass to level after the break.

Wrexham have conceded nine goals in their last three outings and 32-year-old Keates accepts that the standard of defending by the whole team has not been up to scratch.

“We got off to a great start,” he said. “The first 44 minutes we played well and were in control.

“It was a better performance than the previous two games but we have got to do it over 90 minutes.

“It was disappointing to give a goal away right on half time – it was a massive body blow.

“The second half we were not good enough.

“That is nine goals in three games and we have had a hand in every single one of those. No-one has cut us open.

“We have made mistakes but we attack as a team and defend as a team. We should all be defending better.”

While he insists that three points were the priority, summer signing Keates, who has won six promotions in his career, admitted his first goal for Wrexham was one of the best he has scored: “It is definitely up there,” he added. “It dropped nicely for me and I thought I would have a pop.

“I caught it well enough and it went where I wanted it to go. But we didn’t get the three points which is all that matters.

“It was very similar to the goal I scored when we won the title at Walsall, beating Swindon three or four years ago.

“It was very similar on the edge of the box but that one was a half volley.”

Saunders sensed supporters’ frustrations after failing to record a first victory since the opening day win over Cambridge United.

And with Wrexham starting their third season in the Conference, Saunders gave his verdict on the disappointing draw.

“We lost the lead, I think that is why the supporters are disappointed,” said Saunders. “We had a 2-0 lead and it feels like we lost but it is not a bad result.

“The supporters are desperate to get out of this league, I am.

“There are ten teams who have spent more money than us in the league. We are in the Conference – we have got no divine right to beat Eastbourne.

“Obviously because of the history of the club, we think we should.

“We have had the budget cut this year and we have no divine right to beat anybody.

It is going to be a tough season for us. If we get in the play-off spots I will be thrilled.

“We have got an 18-year-old (Declan Walker) playing right-back. He did well but he is going to make mistakes, he is learning the game.”

But Saunders thought Wrexham would go on and win after that quick-fire start.

“I thought we played some really good football early on in the game and we were in danger of completely steamrollering them, and I thought we would,” he added.

“I asked them to go out like that and they did so I was pleased with that.”

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