The Wrexham Youth team prevailed in a tough affair against Sheffield FC’s Youth team to win 3-2, with the Wrexham quality shining through in the FA Youth Cup.
Jake Bickerstaff opened the scoring for Wrexham with a header, but this early lead was pegged back by a Rhodes goal.
It took some time, but Matthew Jones gained Wrexham another lead after some Dan Evans heroics in goal for Sheffield.
Bickerstaff converted his penalty for a brace, but Alex Wonham’s halfway line goal, created a nervous but eventful close to the game.
Wrexham made one change from their previous 5-2 FA Youth Cup victory, as Ryan Williams replaced the unavailable Osian Hughes.
Bobby Beaumont, Max Cleworth, Jones and Bickerstaff returned to the Youth side, after starting in the main team’s victory against St Mirren Colts in the Scottish Challenge Cup. Callum Huxley and Kyle Robinson-Murray also made appearances off the bench in the 4-1 win.
The Reds would have been hoping to make it into the first round of the cup, in this third qualifying round.
Sheffield almost started the game perfectly, but captain Beaumont was on hand to clear the ball off the line and give a wake-up call to his counterparts just one minute in.
Wrexham responded to the Sheffield attack in the right manner, as Bickerstaff flicked a header into the bottom corner off a free kick, to give Wrexham the early lead inside three minutes.
Wrexham dominated proceedings from here on in, providing the fans with some clever link-up play and trickery.
Bickerstaff had the next chance for the Reds, with 13 minutes on the clock. Huxley made a surging run and split the Sheffield defence in half with his ball to Bickerstaff, but he couldn’t quite find the clinical finish for his second.
The Reds had controlled play for 20 minutes, but this didn’t stop Sheffield from grabbing a goal out of nowhere. Ben Tinkley made a great save, but couldn’t prevent Max Rhodes from converting the rebound in the 21st minute.
Jac Humphreys attempted a 20 yard effort, but it bounced straight at Owen Evans, who did momentarily fumble the ball upwards, but regained control soon enough in the 23rd.
Wrexham were still pushing for a second with half an hour gone, as Cleworth curled his shot narrowly over the bar, following a free kick.
Play tended to slow down till the end of the half, with Sheffield arguably having the better 20 minutes, but the scores remained level at 1-1.
Humphreys caused Evans some real problems in the 43rd, as his half volley from outside the box bounced just wide of the post.
The last play of the half saw Wonham convert his header into the Wrexham net off a set piece, but the linesman flagged offside, meaning both sides went into half-time with the scores level.
The Dragons made a half-time substitution, as Ryan Austin came on for Ryan Williams, whilst Sheffield brought on Ethan Webster for Hanniel Kouassi.
The Yorkshire side dominated early second half proceedings, however it was Wrexham with the chance, or rather several at once. Incredible last-ditch defending and diving saves from Evans, saw Humphreys, Bickerstaff and Robinson-Murray all fail to score with great opportunities in the 52nd minute.
The cup feel was well and truly alive in this game, as tensions rose between Cleworth and Bradley Pearce. The Sheffield man was booked for his challenge, with 58 minutes gone.
After a Jamie Cowan booking, Huxley smashed his free kick onto the crossbar, causing the goal to rattle in the 64th minute. Evans was single handedly keeping Sheffield in the game.
Three minutes later though, Matthew Jones was able to smash the ball home, after Evans made another fantastic save off a Humphrey’s shot.
Sheffield were starting to generate some pressure and with just over 15 minutes remaining, Wonham tried a half volley from outside the box. It was similar to Humphreys’ effort in the first half and had the same result, as it bounced wide.
The Sheffield pressure came to no avail though, as Wrexham were awarded a penalty in the 84th minute. Cowan’s sliding challenge was deemed unfair and Bickerstaff rolled the ball into the net to further extend the Reds’ lead.
Complacency seemed to hit Wrexham at the end of the match, as Cleworth made a sloppy pass to Wonham on the halfway line. The Sheffield man decided to cut his loses and try an effort from the centre of the pitch, which lobbed Tinkley in goal to make the score 3-2 to Wrexham in the 87th minute. A nervy few minutes was in store for the Welsh side.
Wrexham handled the late pressure to progress to the first round of the FA Youth Cup, after winning 3-2.
Wrexham: (4-2-3-1): Tinkley (GK), Nash, Cleworth, Beaumont ©, Williams (Nicholas 73’), Jones, Robinson-Murray (Parry 83’), Williams (Austin 46’), Humphreys, Huxley, Bickerstaff
Subs not used: Nicholas, Urey, Allen
Sheffield FC: (4-3-1-2): Evans (GK), Kouassi (Webster 46’), Radford, Cowan ©, Takyi, Pearce, McKeown, Penney, Wonham, Rhodes (Hall 80’), Hackford
Subs not used: Kirkland (GK), Ndlovu, Suttie
Wrexham Bookings: None
Sheffield FC Bookings: Pearce 58’ (Foul), Cowan 62’ (Foul)
Man of the Match: Jones