Despite conceding the majority of possession to their hosts over the 90 minutes, the young Dragons only suffered a narrow defeat at Ewood Park and departed this season’s Youth Cup with their heads held high
They took a surprise early lead through Dan Stephens, before two goals late in the first half had the hosts going into the break with a narrow advantage. They did hit a third into injury time at the end of the match, but that was with Wrexham pushing forward looking for a leveller.
Brandon Burrows returned from international duty with Wales U19s in Turkey, having started in two of the three games against Turkey and Kazakhstan.
The early moments of the tie were ominous as the home side forced three corners, hit the woodwork twice and had a goal disallowed for offside!
By the seventh minute the visitors had created two good chances of their own, as first Sam Pilkington saw his drive blocked in the six-yard box, before the follow cross reached Jack Thorn at the back post, but under pressure his effort was diverted over the cross bar for a corner.
A minute later and full back Dan Stephens fired the Reds in front, coming at the end of that corner, which was first well saved by keeper Matthew Campbell, but there were three Wrexham players hoovering for the rebound just two yards out to fire home the opening goal.
There was a booking for Stephens on 12 minutes, as he pulled the shirt of Callum Wright. The resulting free kick from the right wing and 15 yards from the line, was first headed away by Ben Barratt, before a free kick went Wrexham’s way.
Rovers lifted themselves back into their strike as the midway point of the first half passed and attacked down both flanks with purpose, but time and again, our full back Stephens and Williams stood strong.
Excursions up field were not that common for the young Dragons, but when they did get over the half way line they made the most of the opportunities.
On 35 minutes, Thorn was away down the left wing and his ball back inside found Niall Freeman, who fired on target from 20-yards and forced a full-length diving save by Campbell for Rovers.
A minute later though and Rovers were level.
Following a corner on the right that was played short to Wright, the winger’s thunderous effort came back off a post, but unfortunately struck the retreating Barratt and rebounded off him into an empty Wrexham net from two yards out!
They followed it with a second goal on 43 minutes, when Bradley Lynch latched onto a through ball down the right channel. It was touched by a Wrexham defender, but the Rovers forward was not to be denied and he fired his effort high into the Wrexham net giving Rigby no chance.
Ht Blackburn Rovers 2-1 Wrexham
An early foul by Barratt, earned him a yellow card, but from the free kick 25-yards out, Rovers striker Daniel Butterworth hit his effort high into the acres of empty seats in the Blackburn End of the ground.
A clash of bodies between Burrows and Jackson saw the Rovers man come off the worse and he looked very groggy as he was helped to the sidelines to be replace by Jack Evans on 52 minutes.
Midfielder Jack Vale worked his way through the Wrexham defence a few moments later, but his effort was deflected away for a corner.
The flag kick was palmed away by Rigby, but Rovers were first to the ball on the opposite side of the pitch and the cross back in was met by the head of Butterworth, who really should have scored, but saw him hit the seats once again.
It was really one-way traffic as the second half, as Wrexham were once again forced onto the back foot – surviving through a combination of hard work and some good fortune.
Bradley Lynch turned away from Stephens and right footed from the left side saw his effort just drifted passed the far Wrexham upright. Then Butterworth’s effort from six yards was blocked, fell to Lynch, but he fired inches wide of the left-hand post!
There was a third yellow card against the Reds on 64 minutes, when Thorn has his name taken for a foul on the far touchline. He was followed shortly afterwards into the referee’s note by skipper Scott McHarrie, who caught his man in the centre circle!
With 20 minutes to go, our first substitution saw Matty Sargent coming on for Sam Pilkington.
Immediately afterwards Burrows won the ball back in midfield and Freeman was fed through the centre, but Campbell came racing 25 yards off his line to just beat the Wrexham man and spare the blushes of his defenders.
The limping Burrows finally surrendered to the knock he received earlier on and Steffan Bulkeley replaced him on 76 minutes.
Our first effort on the second half saw a period of pressure end with Thorn firing in a curling effort from 20-yards that carried over the target.
Butterworth then forced a fine save out of Rigby at the expense of corner, and when the cross came the keeper then denied Wright with another fine save.
A quick Wrexham break saw Thorn fouled 25 yards out and earned Buckley the home team’s first yellow on 83 minutes. Moments later Butterworth was also booked for obstructing Rigby when the keeper was kicking out of his hands.
Final sub for Wrexham was Jake Bickerstaff, as the schoolboy went on for McGregor with five to go.
Wrexham we still playing deep and looking for that one chance that would get them back on level terms.
An unusual incident in the final minute as Rigby was left facing two attackers and the home side managed to get themselves offside as they scored – but the referee surprised us all by awarding Rovers a penalty. Rigby stood string through to save Butterworth’s powerful effort from 12-yards.
Then as Wrexham pushed forward into added time, Butterworth ran away from his markers on the halfway line to crash home a fine solo goal and Blackburn’s third of the night
Blackburn Rovers: Campbell, Jackson (Evans 52), Paton, Buckley, Carter (c), Barnes, Vale, Wilson, Butterworth, Lynch (Dolan 74), Wright.
Subs: Winterbottom, Thompson, Connell.
Wrexham: Dane Rigby, Dan Stephens, Ben Barratt, Bobby Beaumont, Ryan Williams, Sam Pilkington (Matty Sargent 71), Scott McHarrie (c), Brandon Burrows (Steffan Bulkeley 76), Jack Thorn, Niall Freeman, Cameron McGregor (Jake Bickerstaff 85).
Subs: Owen Kirkham, Dylan Allshorn.
Referee: Mark Reeves
Blackburn: Buckley (82, foul), Butterworth 83, foul).
Wrexham: Stephens (12, foul), Barratt (47, foul), Thorn (64, foul), McHarrie (65, foul)