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REVIEW | Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Wrexham AFC

Wrexham knock out wasteful Shrews

9 January 2024


REVIEW | Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Wrexham AFC

Wrexham knock out wasteful Shrews

9 January 2024

Wrexham progressed to the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round, after knocking out rivals Shrewsbury Town at the Croud Meadow.

A year to the day, Wrexham knocked out Championship outfit Coventry City in the Third Round, and so perhaps the writing was on the wall for the Salops. 

Twelve places now separate the two sides between Sky Bet League One and Two, as they match-up for a first competitive fixture in over 15 years. 

The last time the Red Dragons ventured to Shrewsbury Town’s then new stadium was in 2008, as Wrexham were about to fall out of the Football League. 

With circumstances being heavily different now, all eyes were on this much awaited fixture. 

Similarly to the Coventry City and Sheffield United Emirates FA Cup ties last year, Wrexham started somewhat nervously. 

The Shrews set the pace for the game, with their pressing being that bit quicker than Wrexham’s usual opposition in Sky Bet League Two. 

A lot of the Red Dragons’ possession was held across the backline, with progression through the midfield being stalled. 

This meant that chances for Phil Parkinson’s men were drastically limited, as Paul Mullin and Steven Fletcher were isolated up front. 

For the home side, opportunities came in abundance, and how they weren’t leading at half time was a mystery. 

Tunmise Sobowale looked a real threat down the right-hand side for the Salops, and was only subdued thanks to Tom O’Connor’s superb performance, as the defender refused to lose any one-on-ones. 

With that being said, Sobowale found himself completely free at the back-post in the 26th minute, as Ryan Bowman was occupying O’Connor’s attention. The number 15 shelled his chance though, skying Jordan Shipley’s cross over the crossbar from a few yards out. 

With Shrewsbury Town’s lacklustre form in front of goal, Wrexham had the ability to settle into the game and try and solve the puzzle in pushing through the Salops' midfield with bodies. 

Shrewsbury would put their foot right back on the gas for the second half though, as they looked to attack directly and quickly whenever the chance came. 

Mal Benning pouncing on Anthony Forde’s mistake in the 65th minute springs to mind, as the defender thudded through the Wrexham half, striking a left-footed trivela onto Arthur Okonkwo's crossbar. 

With all their missed chances, it was starting to feel like one of those days for the second lowest scoring side in the top four leagues. 

Amidst Shrewsbury Town’s residing dominance, Wrexham did have a crucial five-minute spell, 

Straight after Benning had hit the crossbar, Wrexham began to find space inside the Salops’ half and were able to feed balls into Mullin and substitute Sam Dalby on the edge of the Shrews’ box.  

The period started with Elliot Lee shinning a big chance well over the bar, and ended with O’Connor sending the 1,659 Wrexham fans into delirium.  

After already making a run into the box for Lee’s prior chance, O’Connor waltzed into the Shrewsbury box in the aftermath of a Wrexham corner, watching George Evans link up with Lee. Max Cleworth had remained in the 18-yard area for the entire time, as he had captain Chey Dunkley pinned. Cleworth forced Dunkley closer and closer to his goalline, restricting the defender’s ability to close down any forthcoming shot. This meant that O’Connor could fire first time on goal from Dalby’s square pass, and Dunkley’s effort at blocking the ball would only see it fly teasingly past the hand of Marko Marosi in net. 

Five minutes of pressure and overloads was all it took for the Salops to buckle. 

What then followed was excellent game management from Wrexham, as Parkinson’s men didn’t give the home side a sniff at goal. 

That was until added time, when Taylor Perry had two guilt-edge opportunities, for which he spurned both of. 

For the second successive season, Parkinson’s men beat opposition from the leagues above away from home, with O’Connor scoring in both. 

Shrewsbury’s attacking woes were made evident in this game, costing them a place in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round, as Wrexham secured an away trip to Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. 

For now, Wrexham will return to league action, as AFC Wimbledon venture up to North Wales, with the top four in Sky Bet League Two separated by only three points.  

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