Altincham 1 - 1 Wrexham

Last updated : 26 August 2008 By Dylan Gallacher

IN a season when Wrexham and their supporters will be heading to grounds previously unvisited, the satellite navigation systems were not much in demand for yesterday's short trip down the M56 to Altrincham.

More than 1,000 Dragons fans and the team's coach driver found their way to Moss Lane with little difficulty, but once there Brian Little's players got lost for the 90 minutes of a game in which they had been expected to push on from what has been an indifferent start to the Blue Square Premiership campaign.

For whatever reason - and the Dragons boss was at a loss to explain it either - the same team that had battled to a worthy 2-0 victory against Oxford United last Thursday simply did not perform against the part-timers who had suffered a 4-0 beating at Kidderminster Harriers less than 48 hours before.

Even worse was the impression that for long spells the visitors looked the poorer side, much to the disbelief and dismay of the travelling fans' army, which vastly outnumbered the home crowd.

On the whole, Wrexham lacked passion and at times seemed merely to be going through the motions.

Altrincham were fortunate not to concede when Sam Aiston cruised to the byline and dinked the ball into the six-yard box where defender Warren Peyton rose in front of Shaun Whalley to head the ball behind, although the clearance was perilously close to squeezing inside the post.

But it proved a confident piece of work compared to the hesitation in the visitors' back line that led instead to the Robins taking a sixth minute lead against the run of play.

Two opportunities to clear their lines were squandered by Wrexham and they switched off when Anthony Danylyk's scuffed shot from 20 yards was heading wide of the goal. But Chris Senior reacted quickly and the faintest of touches off his head was enough to redirect the ball into the net.

It was a comedy of errors to forget, but the hangover lingered despite a fine 14th minute effort from Kyle Critchell that forced Stuart Coburn into a full-length save. Forced by their opponents into playing far too many high balls, the Dragons appeared disjointed. Greg Young headed over Gavin Ward's goal from a corner, but the Robins, with former Racecourse favourite Mark McGregor a calming presence at the back, were largely content to sit back and looked to hit back on the break.

Eventually though it proved a fruitless exercise as Wrexham cranked up the pressure. Louis, who had settled after an indifferent beginning, struck in the 39th minute. Picking himself up after being fouled by McGregor, he rose in front of the keeper to head home Tom Kearney's free kick for the equaliser.

Simon Brown, introduced for Aiston following the break, set up a 48th near post chance for the Dragons, but McGregor managed to block Louis' shot and Whalley was unable to force the ball through a forest of legs.

The stage was set for the visitors to take proceedings by the scruff of the neck, but they too often lacked quality. Unconvincing at the back - Colin Little firing narrowly wide of Ward's goal - Wrexham were woeful at the other end and Whalley's 70th minute miss when he chose to chip instead of going for power summed up the uncertainty in their ranks.

Sensing the unease, Altrincham made a spirited bid to win the match in the final 10 minutes, a nervous spell which brought bookings for both Darran Kemspon and Wes Baynes to add to the earlier caution for captain Tom Kearney, who was the only member of the side to attain the standards to which Little aspires.

Altrincham: Coburn; Battersby (Street, 66), McGregor, Young, Doughty; Meechan, Lawton, Danylyk, Peyton; Little (Denham, 55), Senior (Johnson, 55). Subs: Ralph, Elam. Booked: Meechan.

Wrexham: Ward; Spender (Baynes, 60), S Evans, Kempson, Tremarco; Critchell, Kearney, Mackin, Aiston (S Brown, 45); Louis, Whalley (Taylor, 81). Subs: A Williams, G Evans. Booked: Kearney, Kempson, Baynes.

Referee: Mr J Collin.

Attendance: 2,619.