Town returned from the Fylde with all three points after a heated contest which saw the home side lose their heads and two men.
A pleased manager Lee Ashcroft said: ‘Great win! We looked like we hadn’t played for a while, a bit rusty. Second half we changed things and made a battle of it. We showed a different side, that we can roll our sleeves up and dig in. Our discipline got us the result, they lost the plot with the referee, arguing with him and getting two sent off. I think we
were the better team second half.”
With the score tied 1-1, Wren Rovers substitute Taran Moxan over-stretched for the ball, but his foot was high and the referee had no option but to send him off. A harsh decision and tough to swallow for a player making his debut. Town took advantage and began to play some good football. A combination of Town’s attacking and Wren Rovers’ indiscipline allowed the away side to gain the victory. Wren Rovers finished with nine men - Danny Pickering also sent off for a second bookable offence.
As well as Hawksworth’s return, Town welcomed new signings Paul Alexander and Nathan Parrish from Bamber Bridge and Connor Linighan.
Wren Rovers were the better team in the first half with the two central midfielders having too much time on the ball and controlling the game, spreading the ball left, right and centre with Town unable to cope. Rick Coar fired a shot in from the left but no Town player reacted for the follow-up.
Clarke, who had been dictating play in the middle of the park gave the home side the lead when he was found in the area free to beat Hawksworth. Reid came close on the 37th minute with a free kick tipped over by the Wren Rovers keeper. From the resulting corner Town fought back and equalised; an excellent in-swinging corner from Paul Alexander was perfect for Sam Dean to nod home.
At the start of the second half Town made two substitutions, Linighan coming on for Parrish and Dave Woodruff replacing Sam Nightingale as a precaution. Wren Rovers continued to create chances and look dangerous but excellent goalkeeping kept the score at 1-1. Reid came close midway through the second half when his 20 yard strike went just wide of goal.
Ashcroft made his final substitution bringing himself on for Stu Garry, playing behind Dean and Coar whilst Ryan McKenna dropped into the back four alongside Woodruff.
The sending off of Moxen in the 74th minute changed the match. Rovers protested but to no avail. The tide changed and Town took advantage of the extra man.
Five minutes later Town were awarded a penalty; Linighan was brought down in the area but the referee allowed advantage and Coar was then brought down. Ashcroft stepped up and confidently put the ball in the back of the net to give the away side the lead. Wren Rovers’ heads dropped and the last ten minutes ruined a good game of football. Several players were booked for backchat. Town added a third when Ashcroft’s through ball found Reid whose deflected shot from inside the area found its way into the bottom corner.
Team: Ellis Hawksworth, Joe Melling, Sam Nightingale (Woodruff), Stu Garry (Lee Ashcroft 79), Paul Alexander, Nathan Parrish (Connor Linighan), Ryan McKenna,Jordan Bowen,Rick Coar, Sam Dean, Lennie Reid. Unused Subs: Matty Edgar, Rob Batty (GK).