There will be no FA Cup adventure for Wrexham this season after they limped to another heavy home defeat, this time at the hands of struggling Conference rivals Alfreton Town.
Aptly sandwiched between Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night, the game contained plenty of frights and fireworks as the hosts succumbed to a second successive 2-4 defeat on home soil following the capitulation to Lincoln City last month.
Neil Ashton’s second minute penalty gave some fans the impression this could be a stroll for Andy Morrell’s high-fliers, but Paul Clayton’s 26th minute leveller courtesy of Joslain Mayebi’s error put an end to those thoughts.
And it was the second half dismissal of Mayebi that proved to be the catalyst for Wrexham’s downfall. Trudging off the pitch for violent conduct Mayebi could not watch as substitute custodian Andy Coughlin failed to keep out Dan Bradley’s penalty.
Bradley was then sent off for a second booking before Ben Tomlinson’s late double, either side of Danny Wright’s 84th minute goal booked Alfreton a place in the second round. Even the dismissal of Tomlinson – issued a second yellow card for celebrating the clincher – could not take the gloss off a handsome victory for the nine man visitors and their band of travelling supporters.
At a bitterly cold Racecourse Wrexham got off to a wonderful start when Danny Wright induced a rash challenge from Danny Meadows to win a penalty after just 16 seconds.
Ashton kept his cool and drove the ball powerfully past Jon Stewart to give his side the perfect start.
Stewart then held an awkward Dean Keates free-kick as Wrexham looked to put the tie to bed early.
It was a shame, however, that Mayebi was unable to do the same after 26 minutes. Awarded a free kick after Danny Devine impeded Nathan Arnold in full flight, Alfreton’s Josh Law blasted his dipping free kick over the wall. It bounced up in front of Mayebi and cannoned off his chest into the path of Clayton for an easy finish on the follow-up.
Stewart saved well from Danny Wright after the big striker was set up by Adrian Cieslewicz following a trademark mazy run by the Pole.
And the visiting stopper was forced into action again as half time approached, first getting a strong hand to Devine’s 25 yard drive through a sea of bodies before he smothered Stephen Wright’s unorthodox effort after a Jay Harris drive had caused panic in the Alfreton box.
A quiet start to the second half exploded in controversial fashion. As Mayebi looked to get the ball up-field quickly from his grasp the Cameroon shot stopper raised his right arm on Lee Franks inside the box. He received a red card for his transgression and, as he headed down the tunnel, will have heard the roar of the Alfreton fans as they celebrated Bradley putting their side ahead from the resulting penalty, beating Coughlin who had replaced sacrificial lamb Cieslewicz.
Bradley soon went from hero to zero when he collected his second booking and took away his side’s numerical advantage.
However, that didn’t stop Nicky Law’s side from extending their lead with ten minutes left. Meadows took advantage of acres of space down the right before delivering a low ball to the back post for Tomlinson to blast home into an unguarded net.
Danny Wright kept Wrexham in touch with a composed 84th minute finish after good work by substitute Nick Rushton, and the Reds almost restored parity when Devine’s shot at the far post was brilliantly saved by Stewart, although Wrexham should have been awarded a penalty for handball in the build-up.
The chaotic end to the game continued when Tomlinson sealed victory after lifting the ball over Coughlin, who went to ground too early, and was promptly sent off for his inflammatory celebration in front of the Mold Road Stand.
Wrexham: Mayebi, S Wright (Rushton, 76), Devine, Westwood, Ashton, Harris, Keates (cpt), Hunt, D Wright, Morrell (Ogleby, 76), Cieslewicz (Coughlin, 59).
Subs: Riley, Clarke, Colbeck, Morton.
Referee: Nick Kinseley (Essex)
Sent off: Mayebi.
Bookings: Devine, Ashton