Gallery: Wrexham woes for Boro
PUBLISHED: 11:17 11 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:26 05 May 2010
Wrexham 5 Stevenage Boro 0 Opening day travels have not been kind to Boro in recent years and Saturday s trip to North Wales was no exception. Not since a Jimmy Strouts goal gave Stevenage victory at Altrincham in August 1999 have they got their season of
Wrexham 5 Stevenage Boro 0
Opening day travels have not been kind to Boro in recent years and Saturday's trip to North Wales was no exception.
Not since a Jimmy Strouts goal gave Stevenage victory at Altrincham in August 1999 have they got their season off to a winning start on the road.
For the opening exchanges of his second spell at Broadhall Way, Graham Westley opted to pair Mitchell Cole up front with Steve Morison, and drafted Andy Drury into a central midfield berth.
Quite how Boro contrived to lose a match by five goals that for an hour they had looked favourites to win will remain a mystery.
Despite the scoreline, BBC Wales commentator Kevin Ratcliffe told his listeners that Stevenage were the best footballing side to visit Wrexham in the past couple of seasons, and Wrexham manager Brian Little quickly conceded that the visitors were the better side for the first hour.
Profligacy in front of goal, poor defending and a lack of discipline were all to blame as they slumped to their worst defeat since a 6-1 hammering at Farnborough in March 2002.
Those supporters not in attendance at The Racecourse Ground could be excused for thinking that this was the mauling that the scoreline suggests, but they could not be further from the truth.
With Morison dominating the two Wrexham central defenders and Gary Mills and Drury bossing the centre of the park, for an hour Boro looked the most likely winners in what was always going to be a tight encounter.
Even after they fell behind midway through the first half to a twice deflected free-kick from Tom Kearney, they always seemed to have the measure of their more illustrious opponents.
They carved out chance after chance but in truth failed to give Gavin Ward in the Wrexham goal too much to do.
Ward was stretched by Michael Bostwick, the goalkeeper just managing to tip his 25-yard screamer over the bar and later in the half had to be equally agile to pluck a long-range effort from Daryl McMahon out of the air.
But Boro failed to trouble Ward from three clear headers, Eddie Anaclet failing to get good contact from a fine cross from Drury and Mark Albrighton and Bostwick heading over from corners.
Early in the second half, Cole was sent clear, but never looked convincing, dallying enough to let defenders get back and block his shot, and McMahon screwed a shot horribly wide after Morison found him in acres of space inside the area.
Wrexham's only real reply was a curling, dipping shot from Shaun Whalley which hit the top of the crossbar.
Moments later, Boro's afternoon was in tatters when inexperienced referee David Coote showed Morison the red card for a bout of wrestling with Darran Kempson - surprisingly the official saw no need to punish the equally culpable defender.
It was scant reward for Morison who had spent most of the afternoon attempting to shake off the over-zealous attention of Kempson and his partner in crime, Nat Brown.
Within five minutes, Wrexham doubled their advantage when slack marking left Jefferson Louis unmarked six yards from goal and the former Boro striker's stooping header gave Bayes no chance.
But still Boro pressed forwards. Substitute Anthony Thomas raced on to a flick from fellow sub Lee Boylan, but like Cole earlier, he took too long and had his effort blocked.
And moments later Boylan was denied by Ward, his glancing header from a delightful cross from Bostwick look destined to nestle in the far corner of the net until Ward plunged to his right to deflect the ball wide.
But that was about that for Boro as they let things slip badly in the final 20 minutes.
And all this after referee Coote equalled the numbers by showing Levi Mackin a second yellow card, this one for a lunge at Ronnie Henry.
Whalley raced clear to lift the ball over Bayes for the third, Christian Smith found acres of space to head another corner past Bayes and the unlikely scoreline was completed after Bayes and Henry collided going for the same ball, leaving Marc Williams the simple task of rolling the ball into the vacant net.