For a second season in a row, Wrexham’s league trip to Chesterfield ended in late anguish as a goal at the death condemned us to defeat.
Dean Keates named an unchanged side from last Saturday’s win over Dover, and his side looked comfortable in the opening stages, keeping Chestefield at arm’s length, until they conceded in the 9th minute.
A high diagonal into the box was met by Reece Hall-Johnson, but his back header lacked power and Akwasi Asante was able to nip in and lash the ball into the roof of the net.
The goal changed the balance of the game: The Spireites started pushing forward confidently, and Wrexham began to look vulnerable.
A scramble on the edge of the box ended when debutant Marcus Dinanga prodded the ball back to Curtis Weston, who drilled a shot over from 25 yards, and George Carline flashed a couple of tempting crosses across the goalmouth.
Dinanga and Asante were causing problems, with Tom Weston finding space between the lines, and Wrexham were penned in. After Jordan Davies and Jay Harris had won fierce 50-50 tackles, Adi Yussuf lost the ball on the edge of the box and Asante struck a shot which took a nasty deflection, but fortunately for Wrexham, Rob Lainton was able to adjust his body position and hold onto the ball
Wrexham were handed a chance to come back into the game when referee Martin Woods awarded a penalty in the 19th minute. Yussuf did well to hold a long ball up and play in Dan Jarvis, who fed Jordan Davies on the left flank. He cut in and shot, but the ball was deflected over the bar by the flailing arms of Chesterfield skipper Will Evans as he lunged to make a block.
Luke Young stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to score a penalty for the second consecutive match.
The goal certainly boosted Wrexham, who then enjoyed their best spell of the first half. A series of Davies corners caused problems, particularly one which debutant goalkeeper Adam Przbek had to take urgent action to punch off the line as he lost his balance.
A fine switch by Jay Harris set up a glorious chance for Wrexham, as Jarvis burst down the right with Jordan Ponticelli unmarked in the box, but his through ball was brilliantly intercepted by Laurence Maguire.
Chesterfield regained the upper hand as the half wore on, but Wrexham’s defence was untroubled, and the only chance the home side carved out was when a Will Evans snapshot from the edge of the area whistled wide.
The Spireites continued to apply pressure after the break with a succession of crosses coming into the box, but Wrexham defended gutsily and were nearly rewarded when an excellent pass down the right by James Horsfield sent Hall-Johnson away. His far post cross was headed back into the goalmouth by Davies, and Ponticelli’s hooked shot beat the keeper but was cleared off the line.
Chesterfield struck back, with Weston’s dinked cross headed goalwards by Dinanga, only for Lainton to deny him by clawing the ball onto the bar.
Again, Chesterfield were on top, but Wrexham defended well and restricted them to shots from outside the box. Whelan had a shot blocked and Whittle blasted well overbefore they carved out a great chance with a quarter of an hour left.
It came from a corner which Lainton, hobbling after a heavy landing from a previous flag kick, punched clear impressively. However, the ball was swiftly played back in and Carline shot from 15 yards drew a fine save from the retreating keeper.
Wrexham responded with a spell of pressure of their own. Davies ripped in two shots which were deflected just off target and a chance to manufacture a one-on-one with Przbek was lost when Ponticelli couldn’t find Yussuf with a return pass.
It looked like Wrexham had earned a draw, but in the final minute Devonte Redmond lost the ball and substitute Liam Mandeville turned before playing a magnificent through ball to Asante, who slotted the winner past Lainton.
There was still time for some late drama, as Davies cut inside from another corner and squeezed in a shot which scraped the post. It was not to be though, and Keates’ side were destined to return empty handed.
Wrexham: Lainton; Horsfield, Kelleher, Vassell, Hall-Johnson (Rutherford 85), Harris, Young, Jarvis (Redmond 57), Davies, Ponticelli (Durrell 85), Yussuf.
Subs: Dibble, Thomas.
Chesterfield: Pryzbek, Carline, Evans, Maguire, Hollis, Whittle (Yarney 75), Weston, McCourt, Whelan (Mandeville 82), Dinanga (Rowley 63), Asante.
Subs, M Smith, Gunning.
Referee: Martin Woods (Lancashire)
Chesterfield: McCourt (18, handball)
Wrexham: Davies (69, foul)