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Wrexham triumph in FA Cup classic against Coventry

Publish Date:07/01/2023
Fact checked by: James Leeland

Phil Parkinson became the first manager in over two decades to lead Wrexham to the FA Cup fourth round, defeating Championship Coventry City in a seven-goal classic.

First-half goals from Sam Dalby, Elliot Lee and Thomas O'Connor, sandwiched in between a Ben Sheaf strike, gave the non-league visitors a commanding advantage at the break.

Talisman Paul Mullin would add a fourth from the spot in the second half, before Wrexham saw off a Coventry comeback to confirm a historic victory and secure their place in the fourth-round draw.

Amos Murphy
2023-01-07 19:36
Wrexham players and fans celebrating at FT. They’re thoroughly deserving of that win. Into the fourth round of the FA Cup they go. https://t.co/uIbVMbvQWS
275 5

A watershed moment for the Welsh side, who continue to go from strength to strength under the ownership of the Hollywood duo Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds.

Wrexham, who were on the brink of extinction not too long ago, are on the up once again.

Wrexham come out on top in FA Cup tie for the ages

The signs of a classic were there from the off. Arriving late onto Luke Young's cross, Dalby's first goal since the FA Cup first-round victory against Oldham Athletic gave the visitors the start they craved.

With barely 10 minutes on the clock, the travelling Wrexham fans had seen their side do something they hadn't done since the 2014/15 campaign: score in the third round of the FA Cup.

Dalby's opener provided the perfect platform for Wrexham to push on and take the game to their hosts. Just as it looked as if Coventry were forging a way back into the contest, Lee's cross-cum-shot doubled the National League's side advantage.

Sailing over the head of Coventry goalkeeper Simon Moore, the Lee's second did little to silence the hoards of supporters packed into the terraces behind the goal, whose jubilant celebrations drowned out the groans of discontent coming from the home end.

Wrexham AFC
2023-01-07 17:51
SO WATCH IT. DRINK IT IN. 🔴⚪️ #WxmAFC https://t.co/0RKIIfFnAQ
841 11

The good times, as the song goes, had never been so good, and for Wrexham, who after 20 minutes lead their second-tier opposition 2-0, were given a harsh reality check midway through the first half.

Coventry's fightback hinged on the introduction of star man Viktor Gyökeres. Brought on after 35 minutes to replace the injured Fábio Tavares, the Swedish international's presence elevated the hosts' performance and just 60 seconds later, he was involved in the move that led to Coventry's opening goal.

Rifling home from 12 yards out, Sheaf's drilled right-footed zipped its way into the Wrexham goal, reducing the arrears to one goal in the process.

From thereon in, a Coventry comeback seemed inevitable. A script that had been played out numerous times before.

Except, this Wrexham team, backed by the Hollywood dollars and fuelled by the passion of a football-obsessed nation, were different.

Deep into the seven added minutes at the end of the first half, O'Connor's looping header restored Wrexham's two-goal lead. And despite the gulf in quality between the two sides, it was impossible to deny Wrexham were fully deserving of their healthy advantage.

Of course, Wrexham boss Parkinson is no stranger to a memorable cup run. While in charge of Bradford City, Parkinson guided the Bantams to the League Cup final, before knocking Premier League Chelsea and Sunderland out of the FA Cup two years later.

Emirates FA Cup
2023-01-07 17:52
@Wrexham_AFC DALBY!!! @Wrexham_AFC take the lead 💥 https://t.co/MI1SEkrrwn
265 9

Now just 45 minutes away from another historic cup upset, the Chorley-born manager's instructions ahead of the second period appeared to remain the same: attack the Coventry backline.

Refusing to rest on their laurels, Wrexham took the game to Coventry and were rewarded with a remarkable fourth goal 13 minutes after the restart.

Converting from the spot, after Coventry defender Jonathan Panzo saw red for handling the ball on the line, Mullin left his mark on the tie with his 23rd goal of a remarkable campaign.

In control and on the brink of their first fourth-round appearance in 23 years, Wrexham wobbled, allowing Coventry back into the game.

It started with a mistake that allowed Kasey Palmer a clean run at the Wrexham defence, before substitute Gyökeres tapped home into an empty net.

If there was a touch of fortune for Coventry's second, there was little luck involved in their third. Palmer swept home a whipped free-kick from 25 yards, cutting the deficit back to one goal and setting up a nervy finish.

Wrexham AFC
2023-01-07 19:31
FULL TIME | Coventry 3-4 Wrexham 🔴 WE’RE INTO THE HAT FOR THE FOURTH ROUND OF THE FA CUP! 🔴⚪️ #WxmAFC https://t.co/uLti3lc9By
8411 407

Ultimately, the know-how of Parkinson, the resilience of the Wrexham backline and a slice of luck along the way got the Welsh side across the line, eventually.

It wouldn't be without one last moment of brilliance, this time from goalkeeper Howard, whose one-handed save in added-time denied Gyökeres a stellar equaliser.

A day to remember for Wrexham, as they march on into the fourth round for the first time this century.

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