A lethal left-footed finish from Sam Dalby and a perfectly placed strike by Paul Mullin were enough to overcome Mansfield Town in the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Our previous visit to the One Call Stadium earlier this season saw a resilient Wrexham performance, with the Stags failing to capitalise on a plethora of opportunities.
This time around, a lot had changed.
Quality and intensity swept through Wrexham’s play, most notably when Andy Cannon skipped past the home side’s midfield with a superb first-time touch to set Dalby away for the first goal.
Phil Parkinson would have been slightly disappointed to not have gone into half time more than a single goal up. Wrexham continually created meaningful chances, and on another day, Dalby could have had a hat-trick.
The Stags were forced to rely on the brilliance of Christy Pym in goal, who pulled off save after save; the pick of the bunch being a reactive hand to deflect Dalby’s powerful shot onto the crossbar and out on the half hour mark.
Pym was no match for Dalby’s earlier thumping strike though, as the striker cannoned the ball off his left boot past the keeper, seeing the ball swerve in a wicked motion across the Stag’s shot stopper.
The link-up play between Dalby and Mullin was proving too much for Mansfield, as the duo exploited the spaces left behind by the advancing Mansfield wing-backs.
The Red Dragons had starved Nigel Clough’s side incredibly well, leaving them with the only option of shooting from outside the area for the most part. That was until the start of the second half, where the Stags had four significant chances to level the score, forcing Wrexham to rely on Arthur Okonkwo in net.
Once again, the Wrexham shot stopper continued to look ever-composed in goal, making his saves look effortless.
This was a real spell of pressure from Mansfield, feeling similar to when Sutton United had a purposeful spell of pressure at the STōK Cae Ras before eventually scoring.
However, Parkinson’s men responded to this pressure in the best possible way; by extending their lead.
A mix-up at the back between Danny Johnson and captain Aden Flint saw the ball find its way to Dalby. Johnson and Lewis Brunt put all their effort into blocking off Dalby from entering the box, that they were unbeknownst to Mullin’s peeling run.
Dalby made no mistake in shifting the ball across to the Wrexham number ten, who carefully picked his spot in the bottom right corner to double the lead.
There was to be no respite for Parkinson’s men though, as Rhys Oates thrashed an early shot from the edge of the box past Okonkwo and into the top corner of the Wrexham net. George Evans had initially cleared the ball, but fell victim to a nasty ricochet, allowing Oates to obtain possession of the ball.
This should have spelled trouble for the Red Dragons, but they saw the game out with ease, as Mansfield were limited in their chance creation for the final half an hour.
The performance from the entire team was immense, embodied by the joyous scenes at full time with the travelling support.
Sadly, Cannon was forced off after a strong, late challenge from Louis Reed. Parkinson said post-match that Cannon would need an x-ray for what seemed to be an “impact injury”; a real shame with the midfielder being unplayable over the last two games.
After the two-one victory at the One Call Stadium, Wrexham will now face National League South leaders Yeovil Town in the Second Round of the FA Cup in early December.
Imminent focus will now shift to Port Vale in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, as the Red Dragons look to top their group in the competition.