|FA Cup 4th Round|
|Brighton & Hove Albion/Wrexham||v||Newcastle United|
|Hull City||v||Crawley Town|
|MK Dons/Queens Park Rangers||v||Chelsea|
|West Bromwich Albion||v||Norwich City|
|Arsenal/Leeds United||v||Aston Villa|
|Derby County||v||Stoke City|
|Sheffield United||v||Birmingham City/Wolves|
|Nottingham Forest/Leicester City||v||Swindon Town|
Wrexham are now the sole non league survivors in this year’s FA Cup after they followed up their heroic efforts at Brentford in the 2nd Round with an even better performance to earn the Dragons a replay against Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion. Whilst Wrexham were continuing their remarkable recent run of form with a 1-1 draw at the Falmer Stadium (currently known as the American Express Community Stadium), conference promotion rivals Fleetwood Town were being thrashed by local rivals Blackpool and Tamworth and Salisbury were being eliminated by Everton and Sheffield United respectively, despite hugely creditable performances.
A remarkable 2,029 fans making the journey from North Wales down to the south coast for the encounter, which even beat the official number of 1,801 Dragons fans (there were a few more reportedly in the home stands) that made the short journey to Telford for the Boxing Day encounter. With a bumper attendance of nearly 6,000 at the Racecourse Ground sandwiched in between these away trips for the New Year’s Day encounter with Telford, the financial situation at Wrexham is undoubtedly looking considerably brighter. It will be boosted yet further should Wrexham manage to beat Brighton in the replay after the winners of the tie were given a home draw against Newcastle United.
Home advantage in front of a vociferous and partisan crowd will give Wrexham a chance of producing what would arguably the biggest upset in the FA Cup this season. However, much may also depend upon the team selection of Brighton manager Gus Poyet, who has threatened to play an entire second team in the replay. Whilst Brighton fielded a strong team for the tie on Saturday, there were still six changes, including two debutants, from the side that had beaten Southampton a few days earlier. Wrexham, in contrast, made only one change from the team that comprehensively beat Telford and that was an enforced one. With Danny Wright still not having recovered from injury, player-manager Andy Morrell came in to lead the forward line as a direct replacement for Mathias Pogba (pictured below), who was forced to miss the game with an ankle injury.
Illustration of Wrexham forward Mathias Pogba, courtesy of Tim Bye (please see Tim Bye Caricatures link for more of his work)
In cup ties such as this, where the club from the lower division is playing away from home, it is often important that the minnows start well and score first. However, an error by Wrexham goalkeeper Joslain Mayebi nearly handed Brighton the advantage in the opening exchanges. Lua Lua was unable to make the most of the opportunity though and Wrexham slowly eased their way into the game.
In an open game, Wrexham were able to create a few opportunities of their own, with Speight in particular causing problems for the Brighton defence. However, having successfully reached half time with the scores level, Wrexham then conceded almost immediately after the break as Forster-Caskey netted from a Lua Lua cross. Despite the setback though, Wrexham fought their way back into the game, securing a replay through Adrian Cieslewicz’s 62nd minute equaliser.
Whilst the Wrexham fans now bask in the glory of their relative success against Brighton, and the possibility of playing an even weaker Albion team next week, Fleetwood will turn their attention to overhauling Wrexham at the summit of the conference. Town play at home to Barrow on Tuesday evening knowing that a win will take them to the summit of the Conference, whilst Wrexham have to wait until Saturday before they play away at Tamworth. With Newcastle potentially waiting for them in Round 4 and an impervious defence that even Championship sides are struggling to break down, Wrexham will be confidence that any ascendency gained by Fleetwood will be short lived.
How do you think Wrexham will fair against Tamworth on Saturday. Vote for the Welsh teams you think will win on the poll to the left of this post.