Wrexham AFC fought magnificently to secure their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup after a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over League One side Wigan Athletic.
In front of a vociferous STōK Cae Ras, the Red Dragons were fired up as they looked to return to winning ways in their first Carabao Cup match since returning to the EFL.
Phil Parkinson’s side registered their first chance of the match with just four minutes played, as Jake Bickerstaff looked to build on his promising performance against MK Dons last weekend.
Wrexham’s number 27 latched onto an inviting ball, striking acrobatically from close range on his right-foot, but his effort landed on the roof of the net under pressure from Wigan’s Liam Morrison.
The visitors reminded Wrexham of their threat just minutes later, as Mark Howard was called into action to tip Stephen Humphries’ powerful effort over his goal from an acute angle.
Ollie Palmer called Wigan keeper Sam Tickle into action from distance, with the keeper out of position when the ball at the striker’s feet. Palmer hit the target with his right-footed effort, but it was tame one and a quick sprint from Tickle was enough to shift across the goal to collect.
Wrexham continued to pile on the pressure as they went toe-to-toe with a side in the league above. James Jones was next to go closest, arguably with the hosts’ best chance of the evening.
Jones shifted the ball onto his right-foot from 25-yards-out, unleashing a low and powerful strike at Tickle, forcing the Wigan keeper into a smart stop. Callum McFadzean then fired over from the resulting rebound from close-range, with the sides going into the break level.
The hosts came out firing yet again in the second half, however, and it took just four minutes for Palmer to test Wigan’s keeper. The striker picked the ball up from the edge of the area, unleashing a powerful curling drive on his right-foot, which drifted just wide of the goal.
Just two minutes later Bickerstaff caused the opposition more issues, launching a swerving right-footed shot that Tickle could only parry into Jordan Davies' path. On his right foot, Davies found the appropriate connection from close-range and potentially should have put his side a goal up, if not for the impressive reflexes of Tickle from close-range.
Wrexham remained on top of proceedings, with their effort yet to be rewarded with an elusive goal. Bickerstaff went close yet again but fired into the keeper’s hands from 12-yards-out after his left-footed effort.
As the clock continued to run down at the STōK Cae Ras, both teams were seemingly consigned to their fates, as a penalty shoot-out awaited the sides in front over 9,000 fans for a place in the second-round.
Luke Young stepped up to take the first penalty for Phil Parkinson’s side, setting the tone as he smashed his effort into the back of the net in front of the Wrexham faithful.
Wigan started strongly as Wyke levelled the scores, but a further three successful penalties - from Lee, O'Connor and Dalby - were enough as Wigan twice fired over - Thelo Aasgaard sending the final kick well over the bar much to the delight of the Wrexham faithful.
Wrexham AFC line-up: Howard (GK), McFadzean (Mendy 58’), Tozer, Davies (O’Connor 66’), Young (C), Palmer (Dalby 73’), Forde (Barnett 73’), O’Connell, Bickerstaff (Lee 73’), Jones, Cleworth.
Subs not used: Foster (GK), McAlinden, Waters, Cannon.