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REPORT | Coventry City 3-4 Wrexham AFC

Dalby, Lee, O'Connor and Mullin score in stunning cup upset

7 January 2023

Match Reports

REPORT | Coventry City 3-4 Wrexham AFC

Dalby, Lee, O'Connor and Mullin score in stunning cup upset

7 January 2023

Wrexham withstood a late fightback to stun EFL Championship side Coventry City and book their place in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round after a barnstorming, seven-goal thriller at the CBS Arena.

Sam Dalby and Elliot Lee both scored as Wrexham made a dream start, but Ben Sheaf pulled one back for the hosts.

Tom O’Connor restored the two-goal advantage before half-time, before Paul Mullin’s penalty made it 4-1 to Wrexham – with Jonathan Panzo sent off for the handball that conceded the spot-kick.

Coventry fought back, with Viktor Gyokeres and Kasey Palmer scoring, and threw everything at Wrexham despite the man advantage.

But the Red Dragons stood firm to reach the Fourth Round for the first time since the 1999/2000 season.

Phil Parkinson made four changes from the team which started the win against Solihull Moors, with Callum McFadzean replacing injured Jacob Mendy as expected.

Reece Hall-Johnson, Max Cleworth and Sam Dalby also came into the starting line-up, as Anthony Forde and Ollie Palmer dropped to the bench and Aaron Hayden missed out.

Parkinson explained ahead of the game that both Palmer and Hayden’s absences were precautionary, with the striker protecting a minor pelvis injury and the centre-back resting a groin injury.

Coventry won the toss, asking Wrexham to kick towards their own fans first rather than after the break.

In truth, the Championship side should have been in front after eight minutes too, when Michael Rose met a vicious cross at the back-post, from a right-wing free-kick, but blazed over.

But the packed-out away end was bouncing in jubilation just four minutes later, when Dalby headed in Luke Young’s inch-perfect right-wing cross.

Dalby was booked on the quarter-hour, after a cynical foul to halt a counter-attack, and Kasey Palmer clattered the post from the subsequent 30-yard free-kick.

Wrexham doubled the lead on 18 minutes though, in slightly fortunate circumstances – Lee cutting inside from the left and curling a right-footed cross that dropped straight in at the back post.

Lee ran the width of the pitch to join his team-mates celebrating in front of the 4,500 Wrexham fans in the away end.

Tom O’Connor was next to try his luck for Wrexham, when Reece Hall-Johnson squared in the 32nd minute, but the Irishman curled his left-footed shot high and wide.

A long stoppage followed, however, with Fabio Tavares falling awkwardly moments later as he tried to control a firm pass.

That also meant an early introduction for in-form Swedish striker Viktor Gyokeres, and a minute later Coventry were level.

A cross was only half-cleared, and dropped for Sheaf to rifle in a goal from inside the area in the 36th minute.

Gyokeres then showed his threat, as he muscled his way forward on the counter-attack on 39 minutes and worked the ball across, but Mark Howard saved Martyn Waghorn’s low shot.

Palmer then lofted a brilliant improvised pass for Sheaf on the right of the goal on 44 minutes, but Callum McFadzean produced a brilliant tackle to deny the goalscorer a quickfire second.

The stoppage, combined with another after Paul Mullin had been bodychecked off the ball and required treatment led to seven minutes’ stoppage time. In the sixth of those, Wrexham restored their two-goal lead.

Ben Tozer’s long throw was initially headed clear, but Luke Young headed the ball back in, Dalby placed a header across goal and Tom O’Connor nodded in Wrexham’s third to spark more celebrations.

Coventry started the second-half on the front foot, forcing a series of corners and set pieces, which Wrexham stood firm to repel.

The defenders then combined to win the penalty from which Mullin scored Wrexham’s fourth on 58 minutes.

Tozer sent a long throw in, Cleworth fired goalwards and Jonathan Panzo dived to stop it with his hand, resulting in a penalty and red card. Mullin stepped up and coolly rolled in the penalty.

The striker could have had a second in the 63rd minute, letting the ball drop before striking the ball fiercely down the middle but Simon Moore parried clear.

Coventry should have pulled one back in the 67th minute, when a deflected cross fell for Palmer in the area, but he hit the post for a second time with Howard wrong-footed.

They did get their goal back two minutes later, however, when Callum McFadzean was caught in possession and Palmer squared for Gyokeres to score.

That buoyed the ten men and they got another goal back in the 76th minute, when Palmer was tripped by Young and lifted the subsequent free-kick over the wall and in.

Coventry pushed hard for the leveller, and there was chaos in the Wrexham area in the 83rd minute which ended with Jamie Allen stabbing the ball goalwards and Howard saving on the line.

Two minutes later, Gyokeres got in and shot goalwards from a tight angle, with Howard brilliantly parrying the ball onto the bar – the ball bouncing clear.

A further seven minutes were added on, and in the fifth of those Palmer shot over from close-range as Coventry camped deep in Wrexham’s half.

But the Red Dragons’ defence stood firm to hold onto their slender lead and spark more jubilant celebrations in the away end.


Coventry City: Moore, Panzo, Bidwell, Rose, Dabo (Doyle 62), Burroughs (Kane 70), Kelly (Allen 70), Sheaf, Palmer, Waghorn (Hamer 70), Tavares (Gyokeres 35)

Subs: Wilson, Reid, Howley, Mee

Wrexham: Howard, Hall-Johnson (Forde 81), Cleworth, Tozer, Tunnicliffe, McFadzean (McAlinden 73), O’Connor, Young, Lee (J.Jones 81), Dalby, Mullin (Palmer 68)

Subs: Lainton, Cannon, Butler, Lennon, Bickerstaff

Referee: Tom Nield

Attendance: 18,218

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