Wrexham AFC climbed into the Sky Bet League Two promotion places with yet another nail-biting victory at the STōK Cae Ras, claiming a 2-1 victory against struggling Sutton United.
Paul Mullin opened the scoring with a fantastic first-half strike, only for Wrexham to scupper their lead in the 59th minute as Aiden O’Brien smashed home from close-range.
Despite injuries to Eoghan O’Connell and Ryan Barnett, Phil Parkinson’s side found the necessary response to restore their lead late on.
With time slowly running out, it was Elliot Lee who came to the rescue, scoring an 89th minute volley to claim all three points at the death in North Wales.
Parkinson elected to make two changes to the side that drew at Bradford on the weekend, as Ollie Palmer and Jordan Davies came into the Starting XI in place of Steven Fletcher and Elliot Lee.
Wrexham started the match brightly but struggled to create any chances of note in the early exchanges at the STōK Cae Ras as a result of their efforts.
Soon enough, that changed. Mullin – who scored a timely header at the University of Bradford Stadium on Saturday, produced yet another moment of magic to break the deadlock in North Wales.
Having picked up the ball on the edge of the box, it took just one touch to settle before Wrexham’s number ten released an incredible finish on his right foot, finding the top corner to finish past Dean Bouzanis with 14 minutes played.
The hosts continued to control most of the possession, but they were largely frustrated by Sutton’s stern defensive efforts following the goal.
Parkinson’s side were handed a hefty blow just past the half-hour mark, as Eoghan O’Connell was forced off through injury and replaced by Ben Tozer.
Ryan Barnett went close to doubling the advantage, forcing Bouzanis to parry his long-ranged strike from distance in the 44th minute. Just moments later, Ollie Palmer saw his header saved from the resulting corner, forcing the hosts to settle for a one-goal lead at the interval.
Wrexham continued to dominate the second half proceedings from the restart, but Sutton drew level in the 59th minute against the run of play to shock the home crowd.
As the match started to become subdued, the U’s went on to smash the game into life. Harry Smith cut the ball back into the path of Aiden O’Brien, who duly smashed home into an open net.
Barnett was replaced by Jacob Mendy in the 69th minute, as the Red Dragons were forced into yet another substitution due to injury. Parkinson then followed up with a triple substitution three minutes later, in an attempt to find an all-important goal in North Wales, with Steven Fletcher, Elliot Lee and Sam Dalby all being brought on.
Mendy unleashed a ferocious strike from 40-yards-out, swiftly flicking the ball forwards before hitting a shot that dipped immensely only to clip the crossbar with Bounzanis well-beaten.
George Evans then tried his luck with a curling strike from the edge of the area, only for his effort to be headed away from goal to deny the hosts from restoring their lead.
Wrexham have become accustomed to late goals being scored at the STōK Cae Ras, and that trend continued under the lights in North Wales, as Lee once again came to the rescue for Parkinson’s side.
Having put immense pressure upon their counterparts, the ball found McClean on the left, who delivered a cross which could only be cleared into the path of Wrexham’s number 38 on the edge of the box.
As ever, the 28-year-old yet again duly delivered in front of the STōK Cold Brew Coffee Stand, smashing home a determined volley on his right foot, sending the Wrexham faithful into jubilation with minutes remaining.
Determined not to scupper their lead once more, the Red Dragons dug in to produce a resilient showing which secured yet another crucial three points which lifted Wrexham into the automatic promotion places.
Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo (GK), Tunnicliffe, O’Connor (Dalby 72’), O’Connell (Tozer 30’), McClean, Evans, Jones (Lee 72’), J.Davies, Barnett (Mendy 69’), Palmer (Fletcher 72’), Mullin.
Subs not used: Howard (GK), Young.
Sutton United: Bouzanis (GK), Sowunmi, Goodlife, N’Geuessan, Smith, Beautyman (C) (Patrick 78’), Clay, Kizzi, Jackson (Coley 78’), Milsom (Pereira 92’), O’Brien (John 92’).
Subs not used: Arnold (GK), Mellor, Fadahunsi.
Match Attendance: 10,183 (276 away).