It was another away day to forget for Wrexham, as a brawling Salford City eased to a 3-1 victory at the Peninsula Stadium.
On the back of the disappointing defeat to Newport County and Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers knocking Wrexham out of the Emirates FA Cup, the loss against Salford City added that extra sting of pain.
Nothing seemed to click for Phil Parkinson’s men in Greater Manchester, whilst everything seemed so easy for the Ammies.
Their two first half goals came fortuitously from corners, as Wrexham struggled to defend the set-pieces whilst battling against the wind.
The first saw Arthur Okonkwo either mistime his jump or misjudge the flight of the ball, with Luke Garbutt’s corner dipping over his hands and onto the head of former Wrexham player Theo Vassell.
The defender had already asserted himself in the opening five minutes, winning headers in constant grapples with Paul Mullin, which proved to be a constant theme for the entire ninety minutes.
Sadly for Okonkwo, Garbutt once more had a corner. The number 29 slung the ball into the far side of the goal, as the Wrexham goalkeeper failed to tip the curling effort over the crossbar.
Ironically for both of these goals, Okonkwo had made two tremendous saves which then led to the corners, with the shot-stopper making a handful of big saves over the course of the game.
Chances the home side somewhat dried up after the first twenty minutes, but Wrexham struggled to string any passes together, as territory in Salford’s final third proved to be non-existent.
That was until the 41st minute, when James McClean’s free-kick eventually found the head of Aaron Hayden. The centre back’s leaping effort was redirected past Alex Cairns by an attentive Sam Dalby in the goalmouth and Wrexham had an undeserved goal back.
Parkinson said post-match how this goal deterred him from making a half time substitution, and the start to the second 45 proved this to be a good call.
Wrexham had an intensity engulfing their play, and it felt like the match was about to turn on its head, just as it did in the reverse fixture.
Mullin heading over from point blank range in the 52nd minute was the pinnacle of this new-found urgency, seeing him fail to readjust at the last moment, following the ball skidding off Cairns’ glove.
Somehow, Salford City managed to wrestle back the momentum in an instant, which is easier said than done.
A few minutes after Mullin’s missed opportunity to level the score, Matt Smith hooked in a third goal for the Ammies and ultimately killed the game.
Parkinson rang the changes towards the end of the game, in a bid to salvage another heroic comeback against Salford. Deadline day signings Luke Bolton and Jack Marriott earned their debuts, and with their added pace, Wrexham now looked like they could hurt the Ammies when charging forward.
Despite the change of formation and more attacking mindset, Cairns had next to nothing to do in goal, as Wrexham’s fightback stuttered.
Referee Alex Chilowicz whistled for full time and the home side secured their deserved three points in what was an afternoon to forget for Wrexham.
Having three away fixtures on the bounce is difficult, and so to have our next fixture at the STōK Cae Ras will be a welcome sight.
The Red Dragons currently fourth in Sky Bet League Two, six points behind first place with a game in-hand, meaning that despite the dismay at recent losses, Wrexham are still firmly in the title race.