Manager Dean Keates. Pic: Wrexham FC.

Dragons’ Manager Keates Takes On Hugely Experienced Torquay Boss Johnson In Crunch Clash At Racecourse

Dean Keates goes head-to-head with hugely experienced Gary Johnson when Wrexham entertain Torquay United at the Racecourse on Saturday.

London-born Johnson, aged 64, has been in football management for 34 years and is not far off qualifying for the 1,000 games club, while Keates has been a manager for four years. 

Johnson, whose son Lee in Bristol City manager, has been in charge at Cambridge United, Kettering Town, Latvian national team, Yeovil Town, Bristol City, Peterborough United, Northampton Town, Cheltenham Town and Torquay.

Both teams badly need a win from this fixture and the Dragons are certainly fired up after outplaying Chesterfield last weekend and losing 3-2.

Liverpudlian Jay Harris, aged 32, is enjoying his second spell with Wrexham and has no doubts about the rest of this season, saying: “Things will improve. Wrexham is a big club – the fans know how big we are.

“My message is get behind us to the end of the season. Stick with us. We will stay up, stay afloat and build on that. The staff and players are possibly more wounded than fans after the defeat at Chesterfield, but we go again.

“The defeat was tough to take. I’m not one to blame referees, but we felt the first goal was offside. Personally, I don’t know whether the third was over the line.”

Wrexham led twice, but suffered a major setback when captain Shaun Pearson injured a foot during back-to-back clashes with former Dragons forward Mike Fondop and had to go off.

“How we didn’t win, I’m not sure,” said Keates. “When you lead twice away it’s crucial to see it through. Chesterfield’s third goal was questionable. Was it over the line?

“For their first goal Denton was offside. For Chesterfield’s second the ball dropped in the wind. Ron [Lainton] came out to pinch and then you hope it drops to one of our players, but it didn’t.

“For long periods we looked strong, organised. But maybe we were a little naive before the third goal. The workmate was there, everything was there.

“We were worthy of a point and disappointed we didn’t take three.  

“The players gave everything and were applauded off by Wrexham fans.”

Wrexham went down to a hugely controversial decision an assistant referee. He decided the ball crossed the line after 93 minutes when Curtis Weston’s shot struck the underside of the bar, bounced down and then out.

Some Wrexham players were adamant the ball did not cross the line.

The Dragons went ahead on 21 minutes when Harris took a quick free-kick from inside his own half and picked out Ponticelli’s run. Centre-half Will Evans, trying to recover his position, could only divert the ball over the outstretched hands of his ‘keeper and into the net

The Spireites were level on 25 minutes when Yarney’s cross was headed on by Weston to Tom Denton standing on his own and he fired across goal to equalise. Keates and his players believed Denton was offside.

Wrexham went ahead for a second time after 68 minutes when Ponticelli held off his marker 30 yards out and raced through to fire under Jalal. 

Chesterfield equalised for a second time when substitute Liam Mandeville fired in from close range when the ball.

The score was 2-2 and a draw looked certain, but Chesterfield snatched the points during injury time. Jalal hit the ball deep, Nathan Tyson crossed and Weston’s hit the bar before bouncing down and being cleared. 

Referee Karl Evans clearly wasn’t sure whether it was a goal, but as assistant signalled the ball had bounced over the line.

Defeat was a massive blow for Wrexham, but they played some flowing football and deserved far more than defeat.

Chesterfield: Jalal, Yarney, Evans, Hollis, Buchanan, Cropper, Smith, Weston, Tyson (Boden 82), Fondop, Denton (Mandeville 60).

Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Weir, Hutchinson.

Wrexham: Lainton, Thompson, Kennedy, Pearson (Rutherford 74), Lawlor, Garratt, Harris, Summerfield, Young, Ponticelli, Hooper.

Subs not used: Dibble, Redmond, Jarvis, Keillor-Dunn.

Referee: Karl Evans (Lancashire)

Attendance: 3,728 (away 637)

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