A young Wrexham under-18s team crashed out of the FA Youth Cup after losing 3-2 in the mini cross-border derby at Chester.
Sam Pilkington cancelled out Danny Edwards’ opener early in the second-half, but two Tom Ruffer headers sealed victory for the hosts despite Matt Sargent pulling one back late on.
Wrexham fielded a young side for the game, with only three second-year scholars available, as manager Dan Nolan made three changes from the team beaten at Fleetwood at the weekend.
Jake Bickerstaff, Bobby Beaumont, Jack Thorn, Wales youth international Sargent and joint-top scorer Pilkington were the veterans of last year’s second-round defeat at Ewood Park, meanwhile – the former two having been schoolboys at the time.
Pilkington took just 38 seconds to get his first sight of Chester’s goal, bursting through two tackles after Kyle Robinson-Murray’s superb cross-field pass before shooting wide left-footed.
Robinson-Murray then shot over from the edge of the area on nine minutes, when Pilkington’s corner was only half-cleared.
Chester took the lead against the run of play just moments later, however – the resultant goal kick flicked on by Lloyd Marsh-Hughes to Edwards, who finished low past Ben Tinkley.
Beaumont led the Wrexham response, charging forward on 12 minutes and trying his luck from well out but he shot wide.
At the other end, Chester’s long balls continued to cause problems and Marsh-Hughes and Louis Hayes combined to tee James Cottrell up on 17 minutes – his deflected shot spinning into Tinkley’s arms.
Pilkington was proving to be Wrexham’s biggest threat and he cut inside onto his left foot again on 33 minutes, but both his shot and Sargent’s rebound were blocked.
It was Matthew Jones who came within inches of an equaliser five minutes before half-time though – his curling right-footed shot from 20 yards touched onto the bar by Ben Gale.
Edwards stung Tinkley’s palms at the other end moments later and Max Cleworth tackled brilliantly to deny Marsh-Hughes in the area in first-half stoppage time but it remained 1-0 at the break.
Wrexham were level seven minutes after the restart, however – Pilkington cutting inside once again and firing low into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Chances were generally fewer, with both defences on top, but Sargent shot well over from distance on 58 minutes and Marsh-Hughes shot wide at the near post at the other end midway through the half.
Jake Bickerstaff then had a header blocked from Pilkington’s corner on 70 minutes, and Thorn’s rebound was saved comfortably.
Two minutes later, Beaumont’s crossfield pass released Scott Butler on the right, who crossed for Robinson-Murray, but he could not get a clean header to it.
Chester regained the lead on 74 minutes, however, when Ruffer got up at the back post to head in from Harry Molyneux’s corner.
Pilkington had a chance to hit back again on 77 minutes, after being fouled on the edge of the area, but he blazed his 20-yard free-kick well over.
Chester’s third goal was almost identical to the second, though, as Ruffer headed in his second of the evening from another Molyneux corner.
Sargent gave Wrexham hope in the first minute of stoppage time, curling in a brilliant free-kick from the edge of the area.
But it was too late for the Dragons to mount a comeback, meaning no repeat of last year’s FA Youth Cup run.
Chester: (4-4-1-1): Gale, Butterworth, Ruffer (Dean 90), Macready (Lynch 87), Molyneux, Edwards, Noble, Crilly, Hayes, Cottrell (Kendrick 59), Marsh-Hughes.
Subs: Rubin, Jones.
Wrexham AFC: (4-2-3-1): Tinkley, Butler, Beaumont, Cleworth, Perry (Huxley 83), Thorn, Jones, Pilkington, Sargent, Robinson-Murray (Parry 83), Bickerstaff (Allshorn 77).
Subs: Williams, Heald.
Referee: Darren Whitfield (Cheshire)
Wrexham AFC: Beaumont (84, foul), Allshorn (after full-time, ungentlemanly conduct)