Wrexham AFC produced an inspired second-half comeback to claim a 2-1 victory against Port Vale, with substitutes Paul Mullin and James McClean ensuring that the Red Dragons finished top in their Bristol Street Motors Trophy group.
Having already progressed into the knockout stages of the competition, Phil Parkinson made 11 changes to the side that knocked Mansfield Town out of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Dan Davies was brought into the starting line-up, making his first professional start in a Wrexham shirt.
Port Vale got the match underway, and also fielded a much-changed line-up. Neither side got an early grasp on the game, with the changes perhaps impacting the flow of the match for both teams.
Jake Bickerstaff had Wrexham’s first real chance of the evening, after he latched onto a through ball from Liam McAlinden who did well to react first to a loose ball and intercept in the middle of the pitch.
Bickerstaff proceeded to strike on his right foot from the edge of the box, but it was an effort that Jayson Leutwiler was equal to in the 17th minute.
The visitors eventually broke the deadlock after 31 minutes, capitalising on the Red Dragons uncharacteristic opening half hour.
Gavin Massey made a smart run down the right, breaking past the Wrexham backline before cutting the ball back to Josh Thomas.
Thomas, on-loan from Championship side Swansea City, needed no time to consider his options and calmly converted at the back post to give the Valiants a first-half lead.
Wrexham went close a few minutes from the interval, but Bickerstaff couldn’t direct an acrobatic effort from close range as the Red Dragons went into the break a goal behind.
Parkinson attempted to turn around his side’s fortunes, as he turned to the experience of James Jones, Paul Mullin and James McClean on the hour mark at the STōK Cae Ras.
Those changes paid dividends just ten minutes later, and the latter pair linked-up excellently to bring Wrexham back into the match.
McClean drove down the left flank with purpose, making easy work of his opposite number and fired a driven cross into the path of Mullin.
Wrexham’s number ten needed no invitation to smash home into the net after 70 minutes, nothing less than the hosts deserved after Parkinson’s substitutions.
The Red Dragons continued in their pursuit of the next goal, with the experience of Jones, McClean and Mullin shifting the momentum in North Wales.
Eventually, the hosts efforts were rewarded as they completed the comeback and took control of the match in the 83rd minute.
Luke Young whipped a pin-point delivery to the front post, finding McClean who got the necessary touch, giving Wrexham the lead and scoring his first goal for the Club since joining in August.
Wrexham held strong in the closing stages, protecting their hard-fought lead to secure a home tie for the knockout stages of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.
Wrexham AFC: McNicholas (GK), James (Jones 60’), Cleworth, Boyle, Hosannah, McAlinden, Young (C), J. Davies, D. Davies (McClean 60’), Waters (Mullin 60’), Bickerstaff.
Subs not used: Hall (GK), Evans, Cushion, Ashfield.
Port Vale: Leutwiler (GK), Smith (C), Loft (Dipepa 86’, Chislett (Brazier 86’), Massey, Conlon (McDermott 63’, Walters, Debrah (Mahaffy 86’), Buah, Lomax, Thomas (Cousins 86’).
Subs not used: Ripley (GK), Plant.
Match Attendance: 7,870 (673 away)