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Match report: Wrexham 1, York City 1
After watching his side recover from a shaky start at Wrexham to hit the woodwork twice and have another chance to secure victory cleared off the line, Foyle will certainly be hoping for greater fortune in future fixtures.
Despite the hosts’ nickname, it was City who played with fire in their belly and deserved a win that would have taken them to within two points of the Blue Square Bet Premier’s top five.
Michael Rankine, in particular, gave the kind of industrious display that made him a feared presence at opposing grounds throughout last season.
The 6ft 3in striker foraged down the flanks to good effect, delivering a succession of dangerous crosses for his team-mates.
He also won his aerial battles, heading on the long clearance that saw Peter Till continue his footballing renaissance as a free-scoring winger with City’s 19th-minute equaliser.
That goal proved the catalyst for a determined push for maximum points and shook City out of their early lethargy.
Within two minutes of the first whistle, Wrexham forced former ’keeper Michael Ingham into his first save when skipper Dean Keates tried his luck from 20 yards.
Keates also curled a free-kick over and Nat Knight-Percival headed wide from a Jay Harris cross before Andy Morrell opened the scoring on eight minutes.
City centre-back Daniel Parslow fell over backwards as he failed to deal with a through ball from one-time team-mate Kevin Gall.
Harris then kept his cool to pick out Morrell at the far post and the ex-Bury striker was just as composed when he sidestepped a Duane Courtney challenge before prodding the ball past Ingham from five yards.
City gradually began to find their feet, however, with Till to the fore, terrorising teenage left-back Johnny Hunt with a series of shimmies, feints and positive runs.
The former Walsall winger levelled the scores in fine style, profiting from Rankine’s power to dart past Hunt before drilling a low shot across the face of goal into Scott Shearer’s bottom right-hand corner from 15 yards.
Wrexham briefly threatened from set-pieces when veteran centre-back Frank Sinclair twice escaped the attention of Rankine from Keates corners.
Ingham made a fine reflex save from Sinclair’s first headed effort and then watched the unchallenged former Chelsea defender clear his crossbar from eight yards.
City responded with a looping Jonathan Smith effort that Shearer had to claw away and Neil Barrett fired straight at the home ’keeper from ten yards following Till’s cross.
But Michael Gash went closest to giving the visitors a half-time lead when his deft sidefooted volley bounced off the inside of Shearer’s post after Rankine’s excellent left-wing cross to the far post.
Ingham was still required to push Christian Smith’s 25-yard drive around a post, though, to end an entertaining first period.
City spent long spells of the second half in the ascendancy with Rankine striking the outside of Shearer’s near post after bursting past home defender Chris Blackburn to race on to Gash’s intelligent ball through the right channel.
Jonathan Smith also shot straight at Shearer after a poor clearance from the Dragons ’keeper and Barrett’s hooked effort was cleared off the line by Harris after Leon Constantine had been sent on for another accomplished cameo outing.
Wrexham, while second best for much of the half, still managed to test Ingham, who palmed a Harris long-range attempt around his right-hand upright.
With just 20 seconds left of the three minutes’ stoppage time and Greg Young having been sent on to safeguard a point, the visitors then survived a late scramble when off-balance substitute Jamie Tolley’s close-range effort lacked the power to beat Ingham.
A share of the spoils, however, was the least City merited and represented the first point garnered from the Racecourse Ground since the Welsh club’s relegation three seasons ago.
Wrexham 1 (Morrell 8), York City 1 (Till 19)
York City: Michael Ingham 8, Duane Courtney 7, David McGurk 8, Daniel Parslow 6, James Meredith 7, Peter Till 8, Neil Barrett 7, Alex Lawless 7, Jonathan Smith 7, Michael Gash 7, Michael Rankine 8.
Substitutions: Leon Constantine (for Gash, 72), Greg Young (for Rankine, 90).
Subs not used: David McDermott, Tom Richardson, David Knight.
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.
City’s star man: Rankine – a real handful for the home defence with his movement and physical presence.
Wrexham: Scott Shearer, Curtis Obeng, Chris Blackburn, Frank Sinclair, Johnny Hunt, Jay Harris, Dean Keates, Christian Smith (Jamie Tolley, 63), Kevin Gall (Andy Mangan, 55), Andy Morrell, Nat Knight-Percival (Gareth Taylor, 88).
Subs not used: David Brown, Declan Walker.
Booked: Hunt 51, Lawless 65.
Shots on target: Wrex 6, City 8.
Shots off target: Wrex 8, City 4.
Corners: Wrex 6, City 6.
Fouls conceded: Wrex 9, City 1.
Offsides: Wrex 1, City 0.
Referee: Peter Wright (Southport).
Rating: started off with two puzzling corner decisions and got little better, even holding up play for a Wrexham defender to tie his laces at one point.
Mistake of the match: Daniel Parslow’s indecision and slip that cost City the first goal.
Run of the match: Peter Till’s driving charge at the home defence that saw him level the scores.
Head to head - Neil Barrett v Christian Smith
With former City loanee Smith screening Wrexham’s back four as part of a three-man midfield, Barrett found it difficult to link up with frontmen Rankine and Gash. City’s ex-Chelsea reserve did, however, find himself in one promising first-half position only to aim his volley at home ’keeper Shearer.
Following Smith’s surprise 63rd-minute substitution, Barrett enjoyed a bit more freedom to get forward and was unlucky not to clinch victory when his improvised, late effort was cleared off the line.
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