There was to be no giant killing this time around in the Emirates FA Cup, as Blackburn Rovers battled back from behind to brush aside Wrexham’s challenge in the Fourth Round.
There was hope for Wrexham fans entering this fixture. The Riversiders are in fairly dismal league form, and Phil Parkinson’s men had a good record against Championship opposition last season.
Coupled with two professional away tie wins against Mansfield Town and Shrewsbury Town, one wouldn’t have been misplaced to have quiet hope of a Wrexham result.
The affair at Ewood Park started in an identical fashion to Coventry City, both matches against Sheffield United and more recently Shrewsbury Town. The Red Dragons looked somewhat nervous and needed to settle down. However, they were afforded the luxury to compose themselves, after Sammie Szmodics failed to dig Sam Gallagher’s slide rule pass into the back of Arthur Okonkwo’s net.
Wrexham therefore had the opportunity to grow into the game, advancing up the pitch and starting to create chances.
With the hosts back pedalling in the 18th minute, Sam Dalby was able to burst through the midfield and cut his own slide rule pass to the on-running Andy Cannon on the opposite flank, as opposed to the closer Elliot Lee, which first appeared to be the route forward. Cannon’s first touch was perfect, not taking him too wide that he couldn’t shoot and not too loose to entice Scott Wharton into making a challenge. This meant that Cannon could smash his laces through the ball and see it swerve past the outstretched glove of Aynsley Pears to open the scoring.
The 7,338 Wrexham fans in the Darwen End flew into a synchronised frenzy of joy, in what was truly a spectacle to behold.
It was apparent that a singular goal lead would not be enough to win this tie, and Wrexham had a glorious chance to double their grip on the game. However, Pears launched himself off the floor to tip over James McClean’s point-blank rebound volley shortly after the first goal.
With Wrexham thoughts drifting to the possibility of another giant killing, hearts would be slammed onto the floor in an instant by Rovers, as they scored twice in two minutes to snatch the lead.
d to Wrexham’s downfall, as Blackburn added a third goal on the stroke of half time; an utterly deflating goal considering the Red Dragons had come back from worse over the course of the season.
A mountain had to be climbed in the second half, but with fans engulfing the end that Wrexham were kicking towards, anything was possible.
Sadly, an ill-fortunate slip by Max Cleworth and a controversial challenge on George Evans inside the box were pre-amble to Sondre Tronstad’s first ever Blackburn goal, as he powered his strike into the roof of Okonkwo’s net to make the score 4-1.
Although victories are currently a rarity for the Rovers’, they have the Championship and FA Cup’s top scorer in Szmodics, with class and experience sweeping through their side.
Their prowess outshone Wrexham in the end, but it was once again a day for the Red Dragons to be proud of, as they put up another valiant fight against a Championship outfit.
The loss means that the league is the only focus for Parkinson and his men now, as a busy February awaits.
The first of four away trips will see Wrexham travel the short distance to the Peninsula Stadium, whereby an improving Salford City will be the next obstacle to tackle.