The future's looking brighter
Our first real chance came with about seven minutes on the clock. An in swinging left-foot corner from Lewis Craig was met with a glancing header from Reilly, but the keeper acrobatically tipped his effort over. Following this both keepers were untroubled for a lengthy period as the teams fought for possession in the middle of the park.
On 25 minutes it looked worrying for us as a late challenge on keeper Lee Matthews led to a lengthy stoppage for treatment on a knee injury, but fortunately he was able to continue. Upon resumption of the game we began an attack, which resulted in a direct free kick to us in a central position, around 25 yards out. However, Pugh put too much on the strike and saw it drift over.
The game became more open at this point with both sides looking to play in their forwards as often as possible. A Pugh flick was run on to by Rob Turner who looked odds on to score but the keeper was out well to block. Wrexham then had a golden opportunity as their right-winger was alone in the box with the ball at his feet but could only blaze over.
More good interchanging between our strikers saw Turner release Pugh but again the keeper came out well to thwart us. Their keeper was having an excellent game and perhaps deserved to be lucky when he half fumbled a corner, but managed to collect it before anyone could capitalise.
With half time approaching Pugh should have put us one up but after beating the offside trap to meet a raking Reilly ball he fired wide past the far post from a position I’ve seen him score from more than once this season. On the stroke of half time though Pugh glanced a header on for Turner to chase down and the big lad bullied his marker as he advanced into the box before slipping it under the keeper.
The beginning of the second half saw chances for either side at a premium. In the early period our only real opportunity was a near post cross from Pugh that a defender just arrived at before Smith. The three lads who will be involved for sure on Monday were then replaced as Smith, Overson and Turner left the field allowing more of our U-16 crop to gain experience. Raph Evans slotted into the centre half position, Ross Buckley took up a central midfield role and Adam Thornber moved to the right wing, allowing Alex McDonald to partner Pugh up front.
Pugh was very much the target man now and he was immediately the victim of a very poor offside decision as the assistant referee flagged despite Pugh running from behind at least 3 defenders. He was in acres of space and clean through and even some nearby Wrexham fans agreed that he was right to be aggrieved.
Pugh then dropped deep to collect a ball and played in Thornber, who had made an intelligent overlapping run. If he’d have been on the pitch a little longer he may have had the courage to shoot but instead chose to slide a square ball across, but neither McDonald nor Craig could force it home from good positions.
With around 30 minutes gone of the half Burnley seemed to put the game beyond doubt. Pugh picked up the ball in a wide right position and ran past his man, advanced into the area and took it round the keeper before finding the net, perhaps fortuitously, through the legs of a covering defender. This should have signalled the end but the visitors went right up to the other end and scored after a midfielder had followed up on a rebound from the post to find the top corner.
We looked a little shaky for a moment but the judgement of Matthews in the goal was excellent as he dived at the feet of a forward to foil an attack. We took heart from this and continued to press.
Our third goal came in bizarre fashion, as an attack had seemed to peter out with the ball at the feet of their keeper. McDonald turned his back as the keeper cleared and was hit squarely between the shoulders, deflecting the ball back into an unguarded net.
Wrexham were deflated by this and they dropped off the pace allowing our young lads freedom to express themselves. Buckley could have scored but saw his long range drive drift just over and Pugh was again denied by an out rushing keeper when he chose to shoot instead of taking it round the goalie.
The best though was saved till last as McDonald saw the keeper rushing out as he attacked a bouncing ball and calmly lifted it over him and into the net to make it a brace for him.
All in all it was a very good game and considering the lack of experience in the side a 4-1 is something all of these lads can be very proud of. If this is a taste of the future then I can safely say I look forward to it with relish.
Team : Lee Matthews (triallist), Dean Stott, Ashley Holt, Martin Reilly, Jack Overson (Raph Evans), Connor Smith (Ross Buckley), Ashley Young, Alex McDonald, Lewis Craig, Marc Pugh, Rob Turner (Adam Thornber).