Akil Wright scored his first Wrexham goal as the Dragons beat Harrogate at the Racecourse to earn an FA Cup first-round trip to Weston-super-Mare.
After goalless draws in the league and cup at Harrogate, and a goalless first-half under the Racecourse floodlights, it was always going to take something special to break the deadlock and Wright delivered.
The midfielder volleyed in from a corner to open the scoring in this FA Cup fourth qualifying round fixture, before Luke Young’s second goal in three games sealed victory.
Sam Ricketts made five changes from the team which started the original tie, two of which were enforced with Shaun Pearson and Luke Summerfield both out injured.
Jake Lawlor and James Jennings both returned, however, and were joined in the starting line-up by Rekeil Pyke, Stuart Beavon and Jordan Maguire-Drew – Mike Fondop, Paul Rutherford and Doug Tharme dropping to the bench.
Starting with a more familiar 4-3-3 formation as a result, Wrexham’s front men wasted no time running at Harrogate’s back four.
Pyke dribbled across the defence on six minutes before teeing up Luke Young, who dragged his left-footed shot wide.
At the other end, Jordan Thewlis – one of those denied by Lainton at close-range in the first match – beat two tackles to cut inside on 12 minutes but shot tamely at the Dragons’ keeper left-footed.
Harrogate threatened from set pieces in the first leg, but this time it was Wrexham’s turn, with Akil Wright round the back to meet Maguire-Drew’s 16th minute free-kick, but he headed wide.
Wright was caught in possession in the visitors’ half on 37 minutes, however, sparking a flowing counter-attack which ended with Lainton denying Aaron Williams at the front post.
A minute later, the Wrexham keeper produced a brilliant one-handed reflex save to deny Thewlis at close-range, but the offside flag was already up.
Maguire-Drew had the Dragons’ best chance of the half five minutes before the interval – but his 25-yard free-kick – after Kelvin Langmead fouled – was tipped over at full-stretch.
Harrogate had a set-piece chance of their own before half-time, closer to goal but on the left, but Joe Leesley curled wide left-footed.
Chances were fewer after the break, but a series of Harrogate corners ended with Callum Howe heading over on 52 minutes.
At the other end, Maguire-Drew’s high, hanging cross found Wright, but his downward header lacked the power to beat Belshaw.
Both sides responded with attacking changes, with Fondop replacing Maguire-Drew and former Wrexham man Mark Beck on for the visitors.
Fondop’s first action was turn and shoot from the edge of the area on 58 minutes, but his left-footed shot was saved and held.
Wrexham were in front on 62 minutes, however, in some style – Wright meeting Young’s left-wing corner with an acrobatic flick at the front post to break the deadlock.
Fondop almost doubled the lead three minutes later, when Young’s whipped free-kick ran through to the back post, but his shot was blocked and Brad Walker’s rebound saved at the second attempt.
Goalscorer Wright was taken off with a head injury with 20 minutes remaining – Paul Rutherford replacing him – but Wrexham maintained their momentum.
Stand-in captain Mark Carrington’s cross was met by Fondop at the back post on 75 minutes, but his header across goal dropped just wide.
Young doubled the lead on 76 minutes, however, after good hold-up play from Fondop, who laid the ball back for the midfielder to fire low into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
Harrogate pressed for a way back into the game and Beck, six yards out, headed straight at Lainton from Jack Muldoon’s cross on 86 minutes.
At the other end, Jennings did well to keep the ball alive in the corner to find Pyke in the 87th minute, but the Huddersfield loanee curled just wide across goal.
Wright’s injury meant there were eight minutes of stoppage time to play, with Ricketts eating up some of those by bringing Scott Burgess on for Beavon.
And the full-time whistle confirmed it will be he Dragons who face National League South side Weston-super-Mare in the first round next month.
Wrexham AFC: (4-3-3): Lainton, Roberts, Lawlor, Walker, Jennings, Young, Carrington, Wright (Rutherford 71), Maguire-Drew (Fondop 56), Pyke, Beavon (Burgess 90).
Subs: Dibble, Holroyd, Deverdics, Tharme.
Harrogate Town: (4-4-2): Belshaw, Burrell, Howe, Langmead, Kitching, Agnew (Kerry 61), Falkingham, Emmett, Leesley, Thewlis (Muldoon 67), Williams (Beck 56).
Subs: Cracknell, Fallowfield, Thomson.
Referee: Daniel Middleton (Derbyshire)
Wrexham: Brad Walker (31, shirt pull)
Harrogate: Kelvin Langmead (39, foul), Callum Howe (71, dissent), Jake Emmett (84, rash tackle)
THE EMIRATES FA CUP
FIRST ROUND PROPER
SATURDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2018
WINNERS RECEIVE £36,000
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