Kettering Town 1 Wrexham FC 1

Reporter:

Richard Williams

IT was the same old story for Wrexham against Kettering Town at Rockingham Road on Saturday – and even manager Dean Saunders admitted his side got what they deserved.

Wrexham stretched their unbeaten run to six matches with a 1-1 draw at Kettering but this was the Reds’ fifth stalemate in that sequence.

And once again, Wrexham had to settle for just a point despite taking the lead.

That is happening far too often and is just not acceptable for a team tipped to challenge for promotion.

Despite being unbeaten, few supporters would claim that Wrexham are genuine promotion contenders after another frustrating result where another two points have been dropped.

Draws are not bad results when you are trailing but failure to go on and make the game safe after taking the lead is proving to be Wrexham’s downfall.

And it is the reason why Wrexham find themselves in 15th position in the Conference table, six points adrift of the play-offs and nine away from new leaders Crawley Town.

Two victories from nine matches, many of which were winable, tells its own story. And while Wrexham aren’t losing every week, they are finding themselves further off the pace and in danger of having plenty of ground to make up.

Wrexham produced a decent first half performance at Kettering. They created scoring opportunities and while Kettering also had chances, the Reds made the breakthrough when captain Dean Keates scored two minutes before the break.

Jay Harris had an excellent opportunity to double the lead early in the second half before Kettering came more into the game.

Wrexham lost possession far too often and therefore found themselves under increased pressure as the half wore on.

Despite holding that narrow lead, Wrexham just didn’t seem comfortable and the inevitable equaliser arrived from the penalty spot with just six minutes remaining.

It was Kettering who looked the more likely to go on and score the winner in the closing stages but thankfully, it never arrived.

Wrexham may not have lost but there is no excuse for drawing so many games after taking the lead.

The crucial second goal never arrives to put games to bed and Wrexham are always liable to concede at the other end.

Hopefully Wrexham can buck the trend against Southport at The Racecourse tomorrow night.

The starting line-up showed five changes from the side which drew against York City in the previous outing.

Centre-back Marvin Andrews, having made a full recovery from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the previous two games, was brought back into the side in place of Curtis Obeng, meaning Chris Blackburn switched to the right-back position.

Left-back Neil Ashton returned after serving a one-match suspension in place of Johnny Hunt and midfielder Jamie Tolley was handed his first start of the season with Christian Smith dropping to the substitutes’ bench.

Saunders also made two changes in attack with Andy Mangan and Gareth Taylor – another player making his first start of the campaign – taking over from Kevin Gall and Nat Knight-Percival.

Wrexham made a positive start and Andy Morrell was thwarted by brave keeper Nathan Abbey who saved at the feet of the striker after he latched onto Taylor’s third minute flick-on, and Tolley also fired wide from Mangan’s lay-off.

Kettering came more into the game and Jean-Paul Marna’s overhead kick from Tommy Jaszczun’s cross was comfortably saved by Scott Shearer, and Marna also headed over the bar.

Brett Solkhon was first to react when Shearer spilt the ball on 13 minutes but his shot was cleared off the line by Blackburn, and Marcus Kelly’s low drive fell narrowly wide.

Wrexham had more chances of their own to break the deadlock as Morrell’s effort from Mangan’s cross landed wide, Mangan headed straight at Abbey from Ashton’s centre, and the lively Mangan was denied by Abbey after racing onto Blackburn’s pass.

Back came Kettering and Jaszczun delivered a corner after 37 minutes for Solkhon whose header was cleared off the line by Keates.

Both sides had chances to score in the first half but it was Wrexham who took the lead two minutes before the break.

Blackburn sent in a teasing cross that Keates was unable to convert but Taylor pulled the ball back from the by-line for the Reds’ skipper who found the back of the net from six yards.

Jay Harris’ injury-time 30-yard drive was turned over the bar by Abbey, and the midfielder was put through on goal for the first opportunity of the second half after being played in by Morrell but his shot was saved by Abbey.

Shearer was forced into a 57th minute save when he tipped Andre Boucaud’s dipping drive over the bar, evidence that Kettering had not given up, and Wrexham needed a second goal to kill the game off.

An underhit Jaszczun backpass almost presented Taylor with a free shot but Abbey was on hand to deny the striker, while Knight-Percival replaced Taylor with 74 minutes on the clock.

Iyseden Christie went close at the other end as Kettering kept pressing, and the visitors were awarded a penalty when Andrews brought down Christie in the area.

Marna was given the responsibility of taking the 84th minute penalty and he duly found the back of the net.

Kettering sensed they could go on and win and Boucaud brought an excellent save out of Shearer.

The pressure was mounting on Wrexham as Kettering looked the more likely to go and snatch three points but it ended all-square.

WREXHAM (4-3-3): Shearer ; Blackburn, Andrews, Sinclair, Ashton; Harris (Smith 80), Tolley (Obeng 88), Keates; Morrell, Taylor (Knight-Percival 74), Mangan. Subs not used: Brown, Gall.

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