WREXHAM cruised into the second round of the Carling Cup with aclinical and controlled display against Championship opponents Sheffield Wednesday, who found themselves outplayed and outgunned on home ground last night.
Denis Smith's side extended their un-beaten start to the season in fine style at Hillsborough, opening up a 3-0 lead and, although Owls midfielder Glenn Whelan pulled one back in the latter stages, there was never any danger of aDragons' collapse and Mark Jones made the game safe by notching his third goal of the season with six minutes remaining
Against opponents who for avariety of reasons had 13 players unavailable, Wrexham made a positive start. They spent most of the opening 15 minutes probing for chinks in the Wednesday armour.
A third-minute Jones free-kick 20 yards out was charged down and home goalkeeper Chris Adamson made an easy save from Neil Roberts two minutes later, but the Dragons should have gone ahead in the ninth minute when Jones picked out Chris Llewellyn, who steered a free header across the face of the goal.
It was not until the 17th minute that the Championship side threatened, Chris Brunt breaking clear for a shot that was deflected for the first corner of the game and the striker went even closer eight minutes later, bringing afine full-length save from Mike Ingham with a blistering effort from 25 yards.
Wrexham were again fortunate when a 27th-minute drive from John Hills took a wicked deflection and flew inches wide of an upright before Brunt made another superb run to collect Whelan's pass, but once more failed to hit the target.
Nevertheless it was the visitors who went ahead in the 33rd minute, albeit with a slice of luck. When Jones miscued a header from Matty Done's centre, the ball fell kindly for captain Roberts, who hooked his shot beyond Adamson and referee Neil Swarbrick waved away claims the striker had used his hand to control the ball.
Within five minutes Wrexham had doubled their lead, Llewellyn profiting from a mistake by Lee Bullen to race clear from halfway before coolly cutting back inside the defender to slot the ball under Adamson.
And it should have been 3-0 a minute before the break when the home side failed to deal with a corner and Roberts chipped the ball forward to an unmarked Done, who prodded the ball wide from eight yards.
The unequivocal message in the dressing room from Dragons boss Smith would have been to keep it tight for 20 minutes, but Tommy Spurr had other ideas and Wrexham were caught out by his surging run and cross which resulted in Brunt once more heading over Mike Ingham's bar in the 49th minute.
That attack set the tone for the initial exchanges, with Wednesday looking to get forward at every opportunity.
But Shaun Pejic and teenager Mike Williams protected their keeper well and the Welsh side, with Matty Crowell and Danny Williams working extremely hard, gradually restored some parity.
And their resilience was rewarded with a third goal in the 63rd minute that owed much to Llewellyn's skill on the ball.
He held off a determined challenge before feeding Jones on the right and the midfielder's low cross-shot was turned in from close range by Done.
To their credit, the home side refused to give up without afight and Ingham was tested by Frank Simek's shot from the edge of the penalty area following a 71st-minute corner, but Wrexham were always dangerous on the break and Done might have doubled his tally had he not been off-balance with just Adamson to beat.
Wednesday briefly entertained hopes of a late fightback when Whelan's piledriver beat Ingham from 25 yards with 12 minutes remaining, but Ingham made a fine save to deny Simek shortly afterwards and Wales under-21 international Jones then wrapped up a great night for the Dragons with a typically flamboyant finish in the 84th minute.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Llewellyn Another fantastic performance
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Adamson; Simek, Bougherra, Bullen, Hills, Lunt Whelan, McAllister (McArdle 67), Brunt, Spurr, Boden, (Bowman 75). Subs: McMenamin, McClements, O'Donnell. BOOKED: Bullen.
WREXHAM: Ingham; Spender (Evans 90), Pejic (Roche 87), M Williams, Valentine, Jones, D Williams, Crowell (Mackin 74), Roberts, Llewellyn. Subs: Newby, Michael Jones.
REFEREE: Neil Swarbrick ATT: 8,047