Szmodics double as Blackburn recover to beat Wrexham

Blackburn Rovers recovered from an early scare at home against League Two Wrexham to comfortably win their FA Cup encounter and set up a fifth-round tie with Newcastle United.

Roared on by 7,000 travelling fans in a packed away end, Wrexham survived an early barrage of Blackburn pressure before Andy Cannon hammered them in front against the run of play with a thumping drive from the edge of the penalty area.

The Championship’s leading scorer Sammie Szmodics levelled for Rovers following a pull-back from Sam Gallagher, who put the hosts ahead less than two minutes later as he capitalised on a rush of blood to the head from Wrexham goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo.

Szmodics slotted in his second to extend Blackburn’s lead in first-half added time and Sondre Tronstad added a fourth after the break with a deflected strike.

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side will welcome his former club Newcastle to Ewood Park next month for a place in the quarter-finals, while Wrexham’s exit ends Welsh interest in this season’s FA Cup.

Two divisions separate these teams but, with Blackburn 18th in the Championship and Wrexham chasing promotion from League Two, the visitors were hoping to defy the odds like they did as a National League side last season at another Championship club, Coventry City.

Wrexham command more attention than your average fourth-tier side, thanks to their Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, Disney documentary series and the rest. The fact that their 7,000 fans made this game feel like a home tie only added to the Welsh club’s main character energy.

Blackburn were eager not to become a plotline in future ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ episodes and quickly took control of the game, outwitting their opponents with slick passing and sharp movement to create several chances.

The first came in the third minute as Szmodics fired wide from Gallagher’s cut-back and, just seconds later, Szmodics was denied by covering Wrexham captain Ben Tozer after goalkeeper Okonkwo had wandered out of his goal.

The visitors were struggling to keep possession but, on one rare occasion when they pinched the ball in Blackburn’s half, the Dragons made the most of it as Cannon fired them ahead from 20 yards.

Cannon almost scored his second from a similar distance but was thwarted by Blackburn keeper Aynsley Pears, who reacted superbly to tip James McClean’s rebound over the bar.

The hosts were soon back on top and deservedly equalised courtesy of Szmodics’ deflected close-range effort following a pass from Gallagher, who was then gifted a goal.

There did not seem to be a great deal of danger when Gallagher flicked the ball beyond Max Cleworth and chased after it but, when Okonkwo rushed out only to then stop short of the Rovers striker, Gallagher rolled his finish into a near-empty net.

Wrexham’s defending was lacking again when Blackburn scored their third, Tronstad’s simple lofted pass over the top of the visitors’ defence finding Szmodics, who finished calmly beyond Okonkwo.

Sammie Szmodics celebrates his second goal of the night for Blackburn

That goal was a deflating blow for Wrexham on the stroke of half-time, and their slim hopes of getting back into the game disappeared after an hour when Tronstad’s shot hit Elliot Lee and flew past Okonkwo.

The remaining half an hour was a procession for Rovers, who will hope to improve their patchy Championship form between now and Newcastle’s visit in the fifth round.

Wrexham, meanwhile, know that their season will not be judged by games like these. Instead, their priority will be taking the next step on their well-documented journey and winning promotion from League Two.

Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson told BBC Match of the Day: “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.”

Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson told BBC Match of the Day: “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.”



Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Pears
  • 11Rankin-CostelloSubstituted forAtchesonat 83′minutes
  • 5Hyam
  • 16S Wharton
  • 10DolanSubstituted forChriseneat 65′minutes
  • 30GarrettBooked at 51minsSubstituted forAyariat 65′minutes
  • 6Tronstad
  • 7SigurdssonSubstituted forMarkandayat 89′minutes
  • 24Moran
  • 8Szmodics
  • 9GallagherSubstituted forTelalovicat 65′minutes


  • 12Wahlstedt
  • 14Ennis
  • 15Gamble
  • 18Markanday
  • 23A Wharton
  • 31Atcheson
  • 33Telalovic
  • 44Ayari
  • 45Chrisene


Formation 3-5-2

  • 33Okonkwo
  • 32Cleworth
  • 4Tozer
  • 15O’ConnellSubstituted forTunnicliffeat 69′minutes
  • 29BarnettSubstituted forMendyat 69′minutes
  • 20CannonSubstituted forJonesat 69′minutes
  • 12Evans
  • 38Lee
  • 23McClean
  • 10MullinSubstituted forPalmerat 78′minutes
  • 18DalbySubstituted forBickerstaffat 78′minutes


  • 3McFadzean
  • 5Hayden
  • 6Tunnicliffe
  • 7Davies
  • 9Palmer
  • 19Mendy
  • 27Bickerstaff
  • 30Jones
  • 31McNicholas

Andy Madley


Match Stats

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Match ends, Blackburn Rovers 4, Wrexham 1.

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