Second-half goals from Elliot Lee and Ollie Palmer consigned us to defeat at the hands of Wrexham.
Luke Williams welcomed captain Kyle Cameron and influential forward David McGoldrick back from suspension, with both slotting into their usual roles.
That meant Sam Slocombe was protected by a back three of Cameron, Aden Baldwin and Lewis Macari, while at the other end Macaulay Langstaff was supported by Dan Crowley and McGoldrick.
Jodi Jones and Aaron Nemane looked to supply the ammunition from the flanks, while Jim O’Brien was given the nod to partner Matt Palmer in central midfield.
McGoldrick claimed the game’s first shot, squeezing a curling effort through a crowd of bodies from the edge of the area but seeing it held by Arthur Okonkwo.
We were having the better of the opening exchanges and, shortly after Cameron had bought a booking off James Jones after he failed to retreat at a free-kick, McGoldrick sent a first-time shot over after the ball bounced up for him just outside the area.
Wrexham then enjoyed a decent spell of pressure – but it was McGoldrick who would claim the game’s next shot as a good move down the right resulted in the ball bobbling to him on the edge of the box. His left-footed snapshot was held.
And Okonkwo will have been relieved to see Langstaff fail to connect properly with a header moments later, making another save after Cameron had served up the opportunity with a delicious cross into the six-yard box.
We continued to look like the more likely side to break the deadlock and, on 27 minutes, we forced the mistake and saw Nemane drag a cross-shot a couple of yards wide of the far post.
The Welsh side were the next to go close as Jacob Mendy’s deflected cross looped invitingly over Slocombe and towards the back post. Paul Mullin was first on the scene but couldn’t squeeze the ball home from a tight angle.
In what was becoming an increasingly fiery first half, and shortly after Crowley had seen yellow for a lunge on Andy Cannon, Jones and Mullin were both cautioned for their respective parts in an off-the-ball tussle.
And, shortly after O’Brien had seen an excellent cross go without a telling touch, James McClean wrote his name into the book for a lunge on Nemane.
The half ended with close calls at both ends, Slocombe clawing Lee’s header away from goal before Jones fired a right-footed effort just wide following a well-worked corner.
We emerged for the second half unchanged and conceded the first opening of the period when Baldwin’s chest control let him down, opening the door for Sam Dalby. He couldn’t seize his chance, though, Slocombe saving low down.
Jones saw a cross-shot palmed unconvincingly over by Okwonko and Lee’s strike an important nick off Palmer as the sides continued to trade blows.
But, for all our promising moments we were struggling to find the clinical edge – as evidenced when Nemane played a dangerous low cross into the area but neither Langstaff nor McGoldrick were able to turn it home.
Cameron saw a sweetly-struck long-range effort saved, Langstaff displayed great strength to hold off a defender before shooting wide of the near post and O’Brien whipped an effort across goal and wide as we continued our pursuit of the opening goal.
But, cruelly, it was Wrexham who would get it as, on 74 minutes, Lee wriggled across the edge of our area and saw his shot take a huge deflection, the ball looping over the helpless Slocombe and into the net.
We had a good chance to respond immediately when we capitalised on a Wrexham error and supplied McGoldrick 20 yards out but, again, our ruthless streak deserted us and Okwonko was able to make yet another save.
And the game was all but over moments later as we failed to deal with a direct ball into our penalty area, allowing Palmer to find the finish low beyond Slocombe.
Crowley sent a shot wide and McGoldrick saw another effort comfortably held as the clock ticked down.
But there was to be no comeback on what transpired to be a disappointing day.
STARTING XI: Slocombe; Cameron, Baldwin, Macari; Jones, Nemane (Austin 76'); O'Brien, Palmer (Randall 77'), McGoldrick, Crowley; Langstaff
SUBS: Stone, Rawlinson, Tipton, Mahovo, Adebayo
BOOKINGS: Crowley 28', Jones 37'
ATTENDANCE: 16,083 (2,863)