WREXHAM'S eight-match unbeaten run came to a disappointing end as they suffered a 2-1 defeat against Grimsby Town last night.
A lack of scoring chances until they found themselves 2-0 behind was Wrexham's downfall as they were unable to build on back-to-back wins inside the last week which had put the Reds within reach of the play-offs.
It was the first time Wrexham have been beaten since they went down 4-3 at Eastbourne Borough on August 21 and just their third reversal in 12 matches this season.
Wrexham easily overcame Southport and Histon in their last two outings by playing some excellent football but they faced a different proposition in the shape of Grimsby who outclassed their opponents for long periods.
Grimsby got the ball down and stopped Wrexham playing, something the Reds were not used to in those two wins at The Racecourse.
Relegated from the Football League last season, Grimsby were a handful going forward as they created the better chances.
Wrexham struggled to make an impact in the final third and it was not until they were staring defeat in the face that the Reds rallied and had their best opportunities of the game
Although substitute Nat Knight-Percival scored in the 90th minute, Wrexham had left themselves too much to do and Grimsby deserved their win on chances created throughout the game.
Despite Wrexham having an excellent early opportunity to take the lead when Andy Morrell failed to convert, it was the closest they came to scoring in the first half.
And although it had been an end to end start with both teams pouring forward, Grimsby took a 17th minute lead when Wrexham failed to clear a corner.
The goal gave Grimsby a lift as the game swung in favour of the home side and they had plenty of opportunities to extend their advantage with Wrexham's Chris Maxwell easily the busier of the two goalkeepers.
Despite seeing plenty of the ball, Wrexham rarely threatened and when they did get into some decent positions they were caught offside far too often.
Grimsby would have been further ahead at the break had they taken some of their many chances.
Wrexham came close to an equaliser within 60 seconds of the restart, but it was Grimsby who had more second half opportunities to kill the game off.
Although it wasn't until the 65th minute that they made their pressure tell by going 2-0 ahead, and they continued to pose more problems.
Despite having their share of possession, Wrexham just did not get near goal enough and rarely looked like finding the back of the net, although Andy Mangan went close late on.
Knight-Percival reduced the deficit in the 90th minute but Wrexham were unable to find an equaliser, and they face another tough test at Darlington on Saturday.
For the third successive match, Saunders named the same starting 11, the only change from the 16 players on duty for Saturday’s victory over Histon came on the substitutes’ bench where striker Mathias Pogba was preferred to midfielder Christian Smith.
Frenchman Pogba, who has joined Wrexham on a non-contract basis following a trial, was included in the squad after receiving full international clearance earlier in the day.
There were chances at both ends in the opening exchanges.
Wrexham skipper Dean Keates found Mangan who beat right-back Bradley Wood and delivered an inviting fourth minute ball across goal that Morrell somehow failed to connect with inside the six yard box.
Grimsby's Micky Cummins brought a first routine save out of Maxwell before Wrexham responded when Gareth Taylor headed wide from Neil Ashton's cross.
Back came the home side and Maxwell, who had been given more to do than opposite number Richard O'Donnell, managed to keep out Alan Connell's effort, and the Reds' keeper comfortably saved Connell's 16th minutes drive following a well worked move.
Now coming more and more into the game, Grimsby continued to press and the home side took the lead just one minute later.
Rob Eagles' corner was only partially cleared by Frank Sinclair, Grimsby reacted quickest to the second ball and centre-back Steven Watt fired past Maxwell.
Saunders was forced into a first change after 27 minutes when Jay Harris, who had passed a fitness test after sustaining a hip injury at the weekend, was replaced by Nat Knight-Percival.
It was Grimsby who were creating the scoring chances and Maxwell did well to turn Eagles' shot around the post for a corner while Cummins fired over on 39 minutes after playing a neat one-two with Connell which carved open the Reds' defence.
But Wrexham almost got back on level terms within a minute of the restart when Knight-Percival crossed into the danger zone and although Morrell was unable to stab the ball home, Jamie Tolley's effort was blocked by keeper O'Donnell.
Back came Grimsby and Eagle's low drive was brilliantly tipped around the post by Maxwell who comfortably saved Andrew Wright's shot from the resulting corner.
Morrell, who injured himself attempting to score minutes earlier, was replaced by Adrian Cieslewicz but Grimsby continued to threaten and former Wrexham defender Darran Kempson planted a free header wide of the target.
Wrexham sustained a third injury of the evening when Ashton was unable to continue so he was replaced by Curtis Obeng in the 57th minute.
But Grimsby took a 2-0 lead on 65 minutes.
Chris Blackburn lost possession, Eagle threaded the ball through for Connell who was left in plenty of space and he slotted past an exposed Maxwell.
Connell also headed wide from Eagle's centre while Cieslewicz's drive was blocked by a defender in a rare sight of goal for Wrexham following good work by Knight-Percival.
Wrexham hadn't given up and their best move of the match ended with Mangan striking the post.
But Wrexham gave themselves a chance of getting something out of the game when they scored on the stroke of full-time.
Obeng delivered a cross from the right and Knight-Percival scored with a superb diving header.
However, there was to be no injury time leveller from Wrexham who slipped to a rare defeat.
GRIMSBY TOWN (4-4-2): O'Donnell 6; Wood 7, Kempson 7, Watt 7 (Garner 49), Ridley 7; Bore 7, Cummins 8, Wright 7 (Hudson 81), Eagle 8; Connell 8, Carlton 7 (Peacock 75).
Subs not used: Hudson, Gobern, Croudson.
WREXHAM (4-3-3): Maxwell 8; Blackburn 6, Andrews 6, Sinclair 6, Ashton 6 (Obeng 57); Harris 6 (Knight-Percival 27), Tolley 6, Keates 7; Morrell 6 (Cieslewicz 51), Taylor 6, Mangan 6.
Subs not used: Brown, Pogba.
Referee: P Davison.
Attendance: 2,532 (85 from Wrexham).
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