Airbus UK Broughton FC progressed to the fourth round of the Welsh Cup with a narrow 2-1 win away at Wrexham. A sunny but chilly day at the Racecourse Ground marked Blue Square Bet Premier leaders Wrexham FC's return to the competition after a lengthy absence. Prior to the game a touching tribute was paid to the late Wales manager Gary Speed.
While the Wingmakers were near enough full strength, the Red Dragons fielded a youthful reserve side due to the first-team's FA Cup 2nd Round commitments at Brentford. The Wrexham side was not totally inexperienced however. Captain Leon Clowes spent a year on loan at the Airfield last season, while Danny Ward, Anthony Stephens, Rob Salathiel, Louis Moss and Steve Tomassen have all tasted senior football.
The Wingmakers made a confident start and looked to get the ball forward early on. An early chance fell to Louis Moss but he fluffed his shot, Wrexham looking lively in an even opening 10 minutes. Following the breakdown of a free-kick Adam Worton drove wide for Airbus. Ryan Edwards also had an attempt off target as both sides settled without really testing each other.
On 22 minutes Ian Sheridan burst down the left and forced a save from Danny Ward, before Anthony Stephens got back on the line to block an attempt from Mike Hayes from the rebound. That was the first real chance of the game before on 25 minutes Wrexham's Kyle Parle headed over from a corner. With around half an hour gone the Wingmakers were shading the game although Rob Salathiel went close for Wrexham.
A good Wrexham cross put across the face of goal failed to connect with another red shirt - which was a let off for Airbus. On 38 minutes the Wingmakers Danny Desormeaux found the target but was foiled by the excellent Ward. At half-time the score remained 0-0 in a game of few opportunities of which Airbus had the better - and would feel they should have taken.
The second-half picked up where the first left off, and early on Danny Taylor made a great block at the near post to deny Louis Moss. There was then a hold-up so Tommy Holmes could receive treatment, having picked up a head injury following a collision leading to that Moss's effort. The game developed scrappily with Leon Clowes shooting high and wide for Wrexham an example.
Adam Worton tried a shot which went wide of the far post for Airbus, before captain Glenn Rule picked up a booking in a hard challenge in which he appeared to get the ball. On 59 minutes the Wingmakers made the first change of the game with Craig Whitfield coming on in place of Mike Hayes. The game then went through a quiet period, Glenn Rule slicing a shot wide from inside the area, just past the hour mark.
From almost nowhere the deadlock was broken on 65 minutes. The Airbus defence were slower to react to a through-ball than Louis Moss who burst into the area and fired low under Niki-Lee Bulmer to give Wrexham a 1-0 lead. The son of former Wrexham owner Geoff Moss had opened his senior account for the club.
On 73 minutes Airbus made another change with Mark Cadwallader replacing Danny Desormeaux. A minute later Wrexham made their first substitution when Rob Parry was introduced in place of Max Fargin. Into the last quarter of an hour Airbus enjoyed plenty of possession but could not create an opening, while Wrexham looked threatening on the break.
Wrexham's Matty Owen made a good run and fired narrowly over before Rob Salathiel picked up a yellow card for dissent. Airbus looked to be finishing the stronger but lacked a cutting edge - although Mark Cadwallader was unlucky wth a far-post miss. With five minutes to go Wrexham replaced Salathiel with Jonathan Royle and Ward made another great save from a low shot by Ian Sheridan.
With three minutes to go Sheridan was also booked for dissent but the Wingmakers were piling on the pressure. Danny Ward was equal to everything Airbus threw at him and deflected another Sheridan effort over. Sheridan put in an inviting cross in front of goal but unfortunately no-one in a blue shirt could reach it in time. However, the Wingmakers were about to receive a lifeline.
In the final minute of stoppage-time Glenn Rule pumped a ball into the area which goalkeeper Danny Ward lost as he was challenged for it. In the scramble that followed, Eddie Hope appeared to get the final touch by an Airbus player as the ball nestled in the back of the net. Wrexham were furious - Ward may well have been fouled - but the Wingmakers had taken the game to extra-time right at the death.
The extra 30 minutes began with Airbus enjoying a second wind and imposing themselves on the game. Jonathan Royle headed over for Wrexham before a lengthy stoppage due to an injury to Clowes disrupted the game's momentum. Both teams were intent on attacking for the win with Craig Whitfield proving a useful outlet for the Wingmakers.
Leon Clowes received a booking on 102 minutes for a late foul. From the free-kick Gavin Cadwallader headed over. Rob Evans had a good shot from distance for Wrexham but the score remained 1-1 going into the extra-time interval. During this brief turnaround the Wingmakers made their final change with Mark Allen taking over from Tommy Holmes.
Airbus were still in control going into the final quarter of an hour although tiring, with the prospect of penalties looming. It would not come to that however as a period of pressure around the Wrexham area culminated in Mark Cadwallader finding Ian Sheridan on the byline. Sheridan cut the ball back into the six-yard box where Mark Allen was on home to tap-in and make it 2-1. After 108 minutes, Airbus finally had the lead.
On 111 minutes Wrexham made their final substitution as Louis Moss gave way to Paul Carney. By now Airbus were well on top and first to everything. Out of frustration a late tackle on Ian Sheridan earned Leon Clowes his second yellow card, and a red card against his former club. Wrexham would play the last five minutes with only 10 men.
There was another Wrexham player booked for a foul on Glenn Rule, and Mark Cadwallader headed over from a Danny Taylor cross. Wrexham were forced to use the long-ball in the last few minutes, and even pushed goalkeeper Danny Ward up for a late corner. However Niki-Lee Bulmer was in control of everything in the Wingmakers goal, and after over 120 minutes of football - the Wignmakers were through to the Welsh Cup fourth round.
Though this was not a vintage Airbus performance against a very under-strength Wrexham, with a little luck they got the job done against a full-time side. The Wrexham youngsters showed why so many are predicted to have a great future in the game and would have learned a great deal from this test. The Racecourse is not an easy place to win against any Wrexham side these days, so the Wingmakers can be pleased and relieved to continue their cup adventure.
Wrexham - 1: Danny Ward 2: Steve Tomassen 3: Anthony Stephens 4: Kyle Parle 5: Leon Clowes (c) 6: Matty Owen 7: Max Fargin (R.Evans) 8: Jamie Morton 9: James Colbeck 10: Rob Salathiel (Royle) 11: Louis Moss (Carney)
Subs - 12: Rob Evans 13: Louis Gray 14: Jonathan Royle 15: Andrew Pasco 16: Paul Carney
Airbus - 1: Niki-Lee Bulmer 2: Danny Taylor 3: Adam Worton 4: Tommy Holmes (Allen) 5: Gavin Cadwallader 6: Glenn Rule (c) 7: Ryan Edwards 8: Danny Desormeaux (M.Cadwallader) 9: Ian Sheridan 10: Mike Hayes (Whitfield) 11: Eddie Hope
Subs - 12: Craig Whitfield 14: Mark Allen 15: Mark Cadwallader 16: Josh Griffiths 17: Gareth Owen
By Rory Sheehan