Southend United came away from Wales empty-handed as Ollie Palmer’s strike early in the second half meant Blues fell to a 1-0 defeat to Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground.
Two minutes after the restart, Palmer snuck round the back of the Southend defence to run onto Jordan Davies’ cross and side-foot his volley beyond Steve Arnold to put the Dragons within one point of Stockport ahead of the evening kick-off.
Blues kept the deficit down to one with Paul Mullin, in particular, looking threatening for the home side, with Jason Demetriou going close to snatching a point for the visitors when his effort from inside the area was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Christian Dibble.
Kevin Maher’s side though were unable to break down the promotion-chasers who picked up their third win from their last four to keep tabs on Stockport at the top of the National League, while defeat ended Blues’ three-game winning run.
Southend were making their first visit to the Racecourse Ground since 2003 and came to North Wales looking to derail Wrexham’s push for automatic promotion.
Following Tuesday night’s win over Boreham Wood – Blues’ third in succession – boss Kevin Maher named an unchanged side to face Phil Parkinson’s Wrexham and they had the better of the few early chances that were created.
James Dunne had the game’s first shot in anger, but could only drag his effort harmlessly, while Tuesday’s match-winner Jack Bridge saw a couple of efforts inside the Wrexham area blocked thanks to some last-ditch defending.
The home side struggled to create anything of note in the opening half an hour and Steve Arnold was untested by Max Cleworth’s long-range effort that flew over the crossbar before Jordan Davies failed to connect with a low ball into the box by Paul Mullin.
Arnold though had to be at his very best to prevent the Dragons from breaking the deadlock, superbly stopping Tyler French from scoring from almost point-blank range after the Wrexham midfielder got on the end of a cross from Liam McAlinden.
Having made it to half time unscathed and rarely troubled, Southend fell behind early after the restart. Ollie Palmer ghosted in at the far post to get on the end of a superb cross from Davies to side-foot volley the ball beyond Arnold two minutes after the interval.
Maher would have been frustrated to have fallen behind so quickly after the break, but Blues could have found themselves further behind moments later after Mullin saw his strike left-footed strike deflect just wide of Arnold’s right-hand post before heading over the resulting corner.
Mullin continued to be Wrexham’s main threat and saw a couple of good chances go begging, first seeing his touch let him down as he ran through on goal before failing to direct his header on target after being picked out by French.
At 1-0, Southend remained in the contest and twice went close to levelling things up with Harry Cardwell glancing a header wide from 10 yards, before Jason Demetriou broke into the box and saw his strike expertly tipped over the bar by Christian Dibble.
Blues threw everything at Wrexham to try and steal a point at the death, with even Arnold going up for a late corner. Shaun Hobson’s header down though was cleared to Palmer whose shot at the unguarded net went wide but it needn’t have mattered as Wrexham picked up the win.
Wrexham XI: Dibble, Hall-Johnson (Hosannah 70’), Tozer, Davies (O’Conner 85’), Young (C), Mullin (Ponticelli 88’), McAlinden, French, Jones, Cleworth, Palmer. Subs Not Used: Camp, Harvis
Blues XI: Arnold, Hobson, Bridge, Dunne (Dennis 86’), Dalby, Gubbins, Neal, Demetriou (C), Davies (Atkinson 55’), Kensdale, Cardwell (Powell 78’). Subs Not Used: Gard, White
Referee: Matthew Dicicco
Assistants: Steven Lennon & Michael D’Aquilar
Fourth Official: David Croft
Wrexham: Ollie Palmer 47’
Southend United: None
Southend United: None
Attendance: 9,269 (505 Away)