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Wrexham 1, Cardiff 1 (Cardiff won on pens)

FAW Premier Cup semi-final: Wrexham 1, Cardiff 1 (Cardiff won 4-3 on pens AET)

FAW Premier Cup semi-final: Wrexham 1, Cardiff 1 (Cardiff won 4-3 on pens AET)

THOSE flicking through the channels onto coverage of this live game must have wondered what voodoo curse stopped Wrexham winning it.

For over 110 minutes they battered the Cardiff goal, but the Bluebirds defended so well that in the end it was a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

It took a penalty shoot out to divide the sides with Lee Trundle and Darren Ferguson the unfortunate pair who missed their kicks to send Cardiff through to the FAW Premier Cup final.

Manager Denis Smith didn't seem overjoyed at the prospect of playing the semi-final in the middle of his team's relegation fight, though he did say it would be useful to experiment.

He duly did, employing Dan Bennett, Dennis Lawrence and Shaun Pejic in a three-man defence with Jim Whitley and Kevin Sharp deployed as wing-backs.

Professional players should be adaptable but it takes a while for the new system to bed in and the Wrexham defence were all over the place when Gethin Jones fired Cardiff into the lead on four minutes.

Paul Brayson caused all sorts of problems down the right and his ball, not cut out by Lawrence, found its way to Jones fired home.

Craig Faulconbridge then came close to equalising from a header from Paul Barrett's cross and on the half hour Wrexham, adapting to the new formation, created their best chance of the half when Lee Trundle connected on the volley with Bennett's looping ball - but in a sign of things to come, Mark Walton stood tall in the Cardiff goal.

Leo Fortune West then brought a good save from Walsh when a free kick 50 metres out struck the big striker on the shoulder and looped towards the goal. That was Cardiff's last meaningful attack until deep into extra time as Wrexham took a firm hold of the game in the second half.

Inspired by the introduction of Carlos Edwards for the injured Sharp, they began to carve out some clear cut chances and once Faulconbridge had a point blank header saved by Walton on 64 minutes the chances came thick and fast.

Young defender James Collins was called upon to make a fine last ditch tackle to stop Trundle and Mike Simpkins then had to clear off the line.

Just when it looked like the Red Dragons wouldn't be able to punch through, Edwards made another threatening break down the right and set up Trundle, who at last found some space bearing down on goal and his shot flew past Walton.

Great skill from Trundle minutes before the end nearly brought the house down but his chipped shot was caught by Walton after he had beaten three defenders and Faulconbridge also found time to have a shot blocked by Walton before Kevin Evans dealt with the rebound.

With Cardiff looking for the play-offs and Wrexham desperate to avoid the drop, extra time did neither team any favours but both sides slugged it out looking for the winner.

Whitley had a shot headed away by Collins before a a goal mouth melee nearly gave Cardiff the goal, Barrett eventually clearing.

With the chances still flowing Faulconbridge, who had an unhappy night in front of goal, couldn't finish off a move involving Trundle and Edwards.

Cardiff should have taken the lead when young Martyn Giles found himself alone in the box after Fortune West had nodded the ball down to him, but with the whole goal to aim at he placed the ball wide.

With Trundle and Walton sick of the sight of each other, the Scouser tested the big Welshman before the end of extra time, but it the end his efforts were in vain due to the lottery of the shoot-out.


Wrexham: Walsh 6; Whitley 7, Pejic 7, Lawrence 7, Bennett 8, Sharp 6 (Edwards 45, 7); Blackwood 6 (Sam 78), Ferguson 7, Barrett 6 (Gibson 106); Trundle 7, Faulconbridge 7.

Subs not used: Rogers, Morrell.

Cardiff: Walton; Low (Evans 28), Collins, Prior, Hughes (Giles 56), Simpkins; Hamilton (Wallis 73), Jones, Maxwell; Fortune West, Brayson.

Mail's man of the match: Dan Bennett.

Referee: Brian Lawlor 4.

Attendance: 826.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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