STAGS BEATEN IN FA TROPHY
FA Carlsberg Trophy Round 1
Wrexham 2 - 1 Mansfield Town
Brown 3, Westwood 12. O'Connor 68.
Att 1559 (61 from Mansfield)
Radio Wales commentary of Stags goal here
Wrexham fans online podcast:
Nervy finish but Dragons hold on
Dec 14 2008 by Rob Freeman, Wales On Sunday
WREXHAM took their first steps on the road to Wembley yesterday as they added to managerless Mansfield's woes with a hard-earned FA Trophy first-round victory.
Early strikes from Jonathan Brown and Ashley Westwood ensured the Dragons' debut in the competition ended in triumph and made amends for their shock Setanta Shield reverse to Southport four days earlier.
However, Dean Saunders was not a happy man after Aaron O'Connor's 69th-minute effort set up an unnecessarily nervy finish.
The Wrexham boss said: “I lost count of how many goals we could and should have scored so we have to be more ruthless. I thought I was in for a nice afternoon that would allow me to bring certain players off, but we made it difficult for ourselves in the end. The last 10 minutes was painful. They had far too many chances and we weren't ruthless enough so I'm not going home happy. But I've got to say the lads kept going and showed a lot of effort.”
The win was Saunders' ninth in 13 matches since taking over from Brian Little and proves his Midas touch extends to the cups.
Saunders has steered the Dragons to the brink of the Blue Square Premier play-off places with a run of seven successes in eight league outings.
But, up until yesterday, he had not been able to work his magic in knockout competitions, with his side's loss to Southport coming hot on the heels of their FA Cup humiliation at the hands of Eastwood Town.
While Saunders admits the Setanta Shield was never high on his list of priorities, he showed his displeasure at the result by making six changes to the XI that started against the Sandgrounders.
And the changes had the desired effect as Wrexham deservedly defeated a Mansfield team who came down with them from League Two last season – but only just.
A first half to savour for the Racecourse faithful began in the third minute when winger Brown scored for the second time since arriving on loan from Cardiff City.
And he owed it all to the silky skills of Marc Williams, who collected Sam Williamson's throw in and skipped past two defenders before providing Brown with a simple tap-in.
Williams nearly got in on the act eight minutes later only for Jamie Annerson to brilliantly turn over the on-fire forward's downward header.
But it proved to be brief respite for the Stags as captain Westwood, with the aid of a deflection, nodded in Nathan Woolfe's resulting corner.
The hosts were dominating and it took a string of fine blocks from Matt Somner to deny the Dragons towards the end of a one-sided opening period.
But the visitors, without a boss following Billy McEwan's midweek dismissal, improved after the break. And, with Dragons right-back Neil Taylor down hurt, they reduced the deficit when Emile Sinclair teed up strike-partner O'Connor to fire in from close range.
Mansfield were now on the front foot and only a fantastic low save from Gavin Ward stopped O'Connor from making it a quick-fire double.
And, after Marc Williams hit the post, the pacy O'Connor went closer still as he turned a cross from the increasingly-dangerous Sinclair over the bar.
But Wrexham, with debutant Steve Abbott on for the injured Patrick Suffo, held on to secure their place in the last 32.