MARK Connolly began his role as interim Rhyl boss with a 2-1 defeat at Gresford Athletic.

After a positive start to the campaign, the Lilywhites are now in free-fall and currently find themselves in ninth spot and 13 points behind Huws Gray Alliance leaders Airbus Broughton ahead of their home clash with the Wingmakers on Saturday (2.30pm).

Despite the eventual result it was the visitors who started the brighter of the two sides, and they got their noses in-front on 17 minutes when striker Alex Tichiner capitalised on a goalkeeping error to fire home.

They almost added to their tally shortly after when Connolly’s long-range effort flew narrowly wide, while Tom Rowlands failed to convert a good opportunity after impressive approach play from Tichiner.

Their lack of conviction would come back to haunt them as the half progressed, and the home side got back on level terms on 40 minutes when standout defender Max Peate’s effort narrowly found its way across the line.

After the break saw the Lilies go close again when the lively Tichiner missed the target, with former Colwyn Bay forward Obi Anoruo forced Rory Crowther into a smart stop at the other end on 70 minutes.

The home side had the perfect opportunity to take the lead on 76 minutes when they were awarded a penalty, but Crowther was once again at his brilliant best to deny Jack Chaloner from the spot.

This failed to deter them in their pursuit of a winner, which arrived on 82 minutes when Owen Roberts produced a fine piece of individual skill before stroking a shot into the corner.

Although the away side enjoyed the majority of possession in the closing stages, they were unable to find an equaliser and ended a turbulent week at the club with another loss.