After a mixed start to the season, Dean Keates’ Dragons were looking to record their first home win of the season at My Racecourse tonight. With the pre-match announcement that new loan striker Alex Reid would be on the bench, hopes were high that the 21-year-old Fleetwood man would inspire an end to the goal drought that has seen Wrexham record just two goals in three games.
Following a convincing performance against Torquay on Saturday, Gateshead came looking to capture their third consecutive win.
The home side kicked off defending the Kop, with the ground bathed in sunshine, and it was the visitors who had the first chance after just 90 seconds, Robbie Tinkler lashing the ball high and wide from 20 yards.
Massanka claimed Wrexham’s first corner of the game in the fourth minute, but the Gateshead keeper won the sympathies of the referees’ whistle as he came under pressure from the resulting cross.
Wrexham were easing nicely into a rhythm, and a period of pressure saw Scott Boden try an ambitious flick on 11 minutes, but it was just too heavy and was easily gathered by the Gateshead stopper. Immediately, the visitors saw their own chance to open the scoring, but the resulting header went wide.
The hosts maintained their composure and played the ball around the field with assured competence, forcing Gateshead into conceding another corner on the quarter hour. After a visit from the visitors’ physio which saw old Wrexham favourite Wes York replace Callum Williams, Marcus Kelly whipped in a ferocious corner, which Manny Smith was just unable to meet under the crossbar.
Tinkler saw another opportunity for a shot squandered on 20 minutes as he managed to stand on the ball just outside the Wrexham box. The home side continued to play precise cross-field passes, and when Jamal Fyfield was nutmegged by Mackreth down the right flank, the ex-Wrexham man managed to push his opponent enough to disrupt his flow, however the referee played advantage and the resulting cross curled behind the advancing Wrexham attack.
On 24 minutes, it was Tinkler again that drove a grass cutter from twenty yards, but Dunn got down smartly to smother the ball. Gateshead continued to pressure the Wrexham defence, and Paddy McLaughlin blasted a shot over Chris Dunn’s bar from the edge of the box on 27 minutes.
On the half hour mark, Peniket managed to turn Manny Smith inside out down the flank, but his low cross was gathered quickly at the near post by the ever-alert Dunn. Wrexham immediately pushed back, but Kevin Roberts misread Mackreth’s run, and his pass rolled impotently through to Montgomery.
After 36 minutes, Massanka committed a foul which gave Tinkler a free kick some 40 yards out, but his delivery was flicked comfortably wide by the head of Vassell.
Five minutes before the break, a Jennings cross from the left curled into the Gateshead area, and Mackreth just got his foot to it, but the weak shot was easily taken by Montgomery.
Two minutes before half time, a late sliding challenge from Peniket on Kevin Roberts left the defender writhing in pain, but to the disgust of the outraged Wrexham players, the Gateshead player was lucky to only go into the referee’s book.
The last chance of the first half fell to Gateshead, and Peniket was immediately in the middle of things again, but his effort amounted to nothing.
Half Time 0-0
The second half commenced scrappily under the Racecourse floodlights. The away side were the first to create a chance 3 minutes in, but Wes York’s looping cross was wasted by McLaughlin, and Dunn watched the ball drift aimlessly high. However, Gateshead looked the sharper, and the hosts struggled to gain any possession.
After 55 minutes, Wrexham were glad to get out of their own half, when Gateshead conceded a free kick just outside their own box. Kelly’s wicked curler was tipped behind by Montgomery.
Three minutes’ later, the crowd’s hopes were lifted with the introduction of debutant Alex Reid, for Scott Boden. He was immediately in the thick of things as he sprinted onto a long pass down the left wing, but with Massanka waiting in the box, his cross was deflected into the arms of the advancing Montgomery.
Wrexham were suddenly looking brighter, with Reid’s speed evident with every attack. His efforts were finally rewarded when he met a long, ambitious pass by Rutherford down the right, and outmuscled the attention of the defence to slot the ball home on 72 minutes.
The hosts’ then set about protecting their lead as Gateshead pushed forward looking for an equaliser. The visitors’ frustrations were manifested by an increasingly physical style of play, and when Wrexham won a free kick, James Jennings was harshly booked for time-wasting seven minutes from time.
With three minutes left, Johnson burst into the Wrexham box and it took a crisp dive by Dunn to save to his left. The home support were left on the edge of their seats as Gateshead won a succession of corners in the closing seconds, and after an agonising three added minutes, a hard-fought encounter between two well organised sides came to an end with Dean Keates’ red and white army taking all three points.
Wrexham: Dunn, Roberts, Pearson (C), M. Smith, Jennings, Carrington, Wedgbury, Kelly, Mackreth (Rutherford, 68), Boden (Reid, 58), Massanka (Hurst,89).
Subs: Dibble, Wright.
Gateshead: Montgomery, Vassell, Williams (York 16), Kerr (Preston 75), Byrne (C), Fyfield, Peniket, Penn (Johnson 59), Burrow, Tinkler, McLaughlin.
Subs: O’Donnell, Hanford.
Referee: Karl Evans (Lancashire)
Wrexham: Kelly (foul, 38) Jennings (time wasting, 83)
Gateshead: Penn (dissent, 26) Peniket (foul, 43)