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THE REVIEW | Wrexham AFC 3-2 Blyth Spartans

Wrexham to face Oldham Athletic in FA Cup first round

19 October 2022

Feature

THE REVIEW | Wrexham AFC 3-2 Blyth Spartans

Wrexham to face Oldham Athletic in FA Cup first round

19 October 2022

Wrexham finally sealed their progress to the FA Cup first round, after beating Blyth Spartans 3-2 in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay – after being pushed all the way by the Northumbrian side over both games.

On Saturday, October 15, Michael Richardson’s 90th-minute free-kick sneaked straight in at Croft Park to send this game to a replay.

But despite only a three-day turnaround, 6,845 supporters – including 245 from Blyth – attended this fixture at the Racecourse Ground, which was also beamed to America via ESPN, to decide who made it into the FA Cup proper.

Sadly, a Spartans’ supporter bus broke down en route to the Racecourse and some supporters had to miss the game despite the best efforts of many – including Wrexham AFC Executive Director Humphrey Ker.

But those who did arrive from the North East England were in fine voice, despite Wrexham starting much brighter than they had done in the previous fixture.

After a slow match in the north-east, Phil Parkinson expected a more intense start from the Red Dragons. 

He in turn picked Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer to start up front together, with Jordan Tunnicliffe making his full debut at centre-back in place of Aaron Hayden. 

Wrexham made a rampant start, seeing Palmer flick a Mullin cross from behind him into the goal. A quite stupendous finish from the Wrexham number nine in the ninth minute.

His strike partner Mullin had to have a piece of the action, as his exquisitely-placed header from an Anthony Forde cross found the very far corner of the Blyth net just two minutes later. 

It was the perfect start to stamp out the lacklustre draw a few days earlier.  

Last season saw Mullin, Palmer and Jordan Davies become a collective goal-scoring machine, and this game followed suit, as Davies pounced on a poor Richardson touch to slot the ball home on his trusty left foot. 

The game was going swimmingly for Wrexham as half time was called. 

Blyth had offered little compared to their home performance, but this was amended during the second half, as JJ O’Donnell’s run from the halfway line resulted in him smashing the ball into Mark Howard’s near-post to grab one back for the visitors early into the second half. 

A mere four minutes later, Richardson hit a perfectly timed side-foot volley from inside the Wrexham box, with the ball curling past the helpless Howard in net. 

Out of nowhere, Wrexham now had to defend for thirty minutes to hold their lead and progress into the FA Cup first round.

Substitute Aaron Hayden, Tunnicliffe and Max Cleworth all held strong, however, as the fluid, attacking football seen inside the first half could not be replicated in the second. 

Aside from a nervous moment in the last few seconds of the game where Richardson sliced a shot from inside the box wide, Wrexham did well to quell Blyth’s momentum and prevent them from scoring an equaliser in the remaining portion of the game. 

It felt like job done for Wrexham, with everyone’s attention turning to their phones in the 15 minutes after the game to see how potential opponents Chester fared, as the Seals led Oldham in extra time. 

A 119th-minute equaliser from former Red Dragon, Mike Fondop, sent the game to penalties, allowing Oldham Athletic to emerge victorious. 

The tie will be played at the Racecourse Ground between November 4-7, with a date and time to be confirmed. 


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