Football / Third Division: Wrexham wrecked

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The Independent Online
Wrexham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Cardiff City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

THE MATCH billed as the Welsh Promotion Derby saw Cardiff's two first half goals stretch the north-south divide and turn Wrexham's automatic promotion ambitions into mere hopes.

City started the day three points and two places above Wrexham, and were always looking to improve on that rather than merely hold on to their advantage.

Although positive and willing to commit extra men to attack, they needed a little luck and some expertise with the dead ball from their veteran captain, Robbie James, to convert their superiority into goals.

The first came after Mel Pejik fouled Nick Richardson 30 yards out. James blasted his kick against a wall, the ball spun towards the left wing. Cardiff's Paul Ramsey was quickest to react and Cohen Griffith's lunge at his low cross gave Mark Morris no chance.

Soon after, a close offside decision denied Griffith a second taste of blood after he was put through by a nudge from Nathan Blake.

It was Blake, a constant torment to Wrexham during a spell when they were embarrassingly second best, who claimed their second goal six minutes before half time. Phil Hardy fouled Griffith wide on the right and James' free-kick was measured perfectly for Blake's powerful free header.

A disappointing Wrexham, unbeaten in the League since February, looked more combative after leading scorer Gary Bennett left the bench early in the second half. His appearance was greeted by encouraging chants of 'psycho' from the home supporters, courtesy of an earlier altercation with Blake from the wrong side of the touchline.

But the Cardiff defence had a calm, solid quality as James and Kevin Ratcliffe were ably supported by Jason Perry, an impressive young centre-half.

Wrexham could produce little in the way of real chances. A touch past the post by Karl Connolly and a shot by Jonathon Cross that had to be well saved in the last minute were about it.

Wrexham: M Morris, B Jones, P Hardy, G Owen, T Humes, M Pejic, M Taylor (G Bennett, 52 min), M Lake, K Connolly, S Watkin, J Cross. Subs not used: J Case. Manager: B Flynn.

Cardiff City: G Ward; R James, D Searle, D Brazil, J Perry, K Ratcliffe, P Ramsey, N Richardson, P Stant (C Dale, 78 min), N Blake, C Griffith. Subs not used: P Millar. Coach: E May.

Referee: T Fitzharris (Bolton).

Goals: Griffith (0-1, 26 min); Blake (0-2, 39 min).