Wrexham progressed to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, after a 1-0 win against Chesterfield in the replay of the fourth qualifying round.
A win was needed for Dean Keates, especially as Wrexham had failed to beat Chesterfield in the previous two fixtures.
The Wrexham manager reflected on a two sided performance, that required a goal from the returning JJ Hooper.
Keates praised his men for the character and fight that they were able to show in the dying embers of the match.
“We just needed a win and we got one tonight. I thought we played really well in the first half and not the best in the second half. I give the lads full credit for showing some resilience in the last ten minutes and putting their bodies on the line for the club.”
“We started well in the first half. We dominated possession, created chances and got the goal that we deserved. We spoke at full-time about being complacent and we’re not happy with the second-half performance, but I give the lads full credit for grinding it out.”
“We got through. I’m positive, because we scored and kept a clean-sheet, but we just want to make life easier for ourselves. We had opportunities to kill it off, which we didn’t take. It wasn’t quite anywhere near where I want them to be, but give them credit to ground something out."
Keates gave special praise to Hooper and Rob Lainton in goal. Hooper provided a clever finish with the goal, whilst Lainton produced some spectacular saves to keep his first clean-sheet of the season.
“It was a good-work goal and he’s [Hooper] something different for us. Today we had to make sure that we got him to the 60-70 minute mark, to manage his minutes.”
“Give Rob [Lainton] full credit as well with his concentration levels. For long periods of the game he wasn’t involved and his concentration levels got him to where he wanted to be to make the saves.”
Keates was wary of the performance transition of the first-half to the second. After Hooper’s goal on the half hour mark, the slick Wrexham play seemed to dwindle.
“We spoke about it at half time that the minimum we’d come back with was a clean-sheet. We wanted to create opportunities to be more ruthless and to make the score-line a little more flattering for ourselves, but we didn’t take those chances.”
Wrexham reverted to Plan B in the second half and chose to counter attack, amidst the constant Spireites pressure. “We weren’t happy for the phases of play, as we didn’t pass the ball as well as we did in the first half. That’s something we need to take into the weekend; to be more creative and be better with the ball.”
Recently, the Reds have been criticised for their individual errors costing them points in league games. However, the ‘Red Wall’ showed great character to keep the Chesterfield attack out.
“The last couple of games, it’s been more individual errors. We’ve not been collective as a team, we’ve not really been cut open, it’s been individual errors. Today in the last 15-20 minutes it becomes different. There were a lot of diagonal balls played into the box and they brought Denton on, so it was always about that second-phase. Give the lads some credit for some great blocks towards the end.”
When asked about the First Round fixture against Rochdale, Keates’ focus remained solely on the league for the time being.
“We just wanted to get through, we needed to win a football match; it’s been disappointing. With the next round, we’ll address that nearer to the time. All the focus is on Dagenham [and Redbridge] at the weekend.”
“It’s an opportunity. It’s our next game, so we want to go there and get something. League-wise, we are nowhere near where we want to be in the division. Hopefully the performance will be really good and we will back it up with the three points.”
It is vital that Wrexham are able to transfer their cup form into the league. Wrexham are currently 21st in the National League sitting in the relegation zone.
A win against Dagenham and Redbridge will be a must for Keates’ side. For more information on our visit to Victoria Road, visit our match day guide.