Blackburn Rovers overcame an initial scare at home against League Two Wrexham to secure a convincing victory in their FA Cup encounter, earning them a spot in the fifth round against Newcastle United.
Despite facing an early onslaught from Blackburn, Wrexham, buoyed by 7,000 enthusiastic away fans, managed to take the lead against the run of play with a powerful strike from Andy Cannon at the edge of the penalty area. Championship’s top scorer, Sammie Szmodics, swiftly equalized for Rovers after a setup from Sam Gallagher, who then capitalized on a goalkeeper error from Arthur Okonkwo to put the hosts ahead in less than two minutes.
Szmodics netted his second just before halftime, extending Blackburn’s lead, and Sondre Tronstad added a fourth with a deflected strike in the second half. Jon Dahl Tomasson’s team is now set to face his former club, Newcastle, at Ewood Park for a place in the quarter-finals, while Wrexham’s exit marks the end of Welsh involvement in this season’s FA Cup.
Although these teams are separated by two divisions, Wrexham, aiming for promotion from League Two, aimed to defy the odds, drawing inspiration from their previous successes as a National League side against Championship clubs. Blackburn, determined not to become a subplot in Wrexham’s narrative, dominated the game with precise passing and sharp movement, creating numerous chances.
Despite Wrexham taking the lead through Cannon’s strike, Blackburn quickly regained control. Szmodics, denied earlier by Wrexham captain Ben Tozer, equalized with a deflected effort, and Gallagher capitalized on defensive lapses to secure the lead. Tronstad’s lofted pass found Szmodics for the third goal, dealing a blow to Wrexham just before halftime. Tronstad’s shot, deflected off Elliot Lee, sealed the win for Rovers.
The final half-hour became a procession for Blackburn, who will seek to improve their inconsistent Championship form before facing Newcastle in the fifth round. Meanwhile, Wrexham acknowledges that their season’s success hinges on progressing in their journey and securing promotion from League Two.
Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson said: “It was a tough night for us, we were up against a good side.
“They have two strikers who are right at the top of the game. Szmodics is the top scorer in the Championship and he showed it tonight.
“It’s a great lesson for us against better quality opponents. You’ve got to be switched on all the time or you get punished, and they punished us tonight.
“Tonight wasn’t the night for us but we’ll concentrate on the second part of the season in the league.”
Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson said: “Playing in the FA Cup is something special. A game like this could be dangerous.
“We started really well, could have been 2-0 up after five minutes and then we conceded a goal.
“But the players stayed calm and we scored three brilliant goals after that and dominated the game. It was a great win.
“Wrexham bringing 7,000 fans on a Monday night is incredible. That’s the loyalty and passion of football.”