Throughout the 2016/17 football season I will be contributing to the Wrexham AFC matchday programme. I will be penning a feature called Memory Match, a look back at classic Wrexham games from the past that I will share in this blog over the coming months.
North Ferriby United v Wrexham
FA Trophy Final
Result: 3-3 (North Ferriby United win 5-4 on pens)
North Ferriby United: Nicklin, Toliss, Wilde, King, Wilson, Hone, Clarke, Fry, Denton, Bolder, St Juste
Goalscorers: King (76 pen), Kendall (86, 101)
Wrexham: Coughlin, Tomassen, Smith, Hudson, Ashton, Harris, Keates, Clarke, Morris, Moult, Jennings Goalscorers: Moult (11, 118), Harris (59)
Do I really have to write this? Surely, it’s best forgotten, but sometimes if we revisit nightmares we can learn lessons to prevent making the same mistakes again.
On their road to Wembley, Wrexham have beaten Southport, Stockport County, Gateshead, FC Halifax Town and Torquay United 5-1 over two legs in the semi-final. Meanwhile, our opponents, North Ferriby United of the Vanarama North, had beaten Mickleover Sports, Boston United, Hyde, Farnborough, Ebbsfleet United and Bath City (on penalties) in the semi-final, after drawing 3-3 with the Romans over two legs.
Surely Wrexham would have no trouble picking up their second FA Trophy title in two years against a team of part-timers from a Yorkshire village?
It all started so well. On the 11th minute, Louis Moult managed to put Kevin Wilkin’s men ahead when he tapped the ball in from inside the six-yard box. Joe Clarke and Connor Jennings had worked the ball well on the left wing with the latter finding Moult in the box to give the Dragons an early lead.
Billy Heath’s North Ferriby side squandered their best chance of the half on 32 minutes and Andy Coughlin was alert to save well from winger Danny Clarke.
Wrexham did make it 2-0 on 59 minutes through Jay Harris. The midfielder had just returned to the pitch after receiving treatment and he raced through from the right side to slot past Adam Nicklin at the near post.
Seemingly in control, Kevin Wilkin then made the biggest mistake of his managerial career when he substituted Dean Keates on 70 minutes. Our experienced captain had been controlling the midfield and organising his troops as usual, so to take him off when he wasn’t even injured seemed bizarre.
The Villagers were handed a lifeline on the 76th minute when Clarke was fouled in the box by Coughlin. Captain Liam King stepped up and smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1. Things were beginning to unravel.
Seven minutes after replace Russell Fry, substitute Ryan Kendall grabbed the equaliser when he was in the right place at the right time to convert Jason St Juste’s cross and force extra time.
Just after the 100-minute mark, North Ferriby took the lead for the first time when Kendall doubled his tally. St Juste’s deflected cross found the head of Kendall who nodded past a helpless Coughlin. What was going on?
Wrexham piled the pressure in the final 15 minutes and were rewarded for their efforts when Moult smashed in the equaliser with minutes left on the clock.
The shootout went to sudden death and Steve Tomassen was the unlucky player to miss the deciding spot kick to confirm North Ferriby as 2015 FA Trophy winners.
Wrexham manager Kevin Wilkin said: “I’m gutted. We had a great opportunity to put ourselves in the driving seat and to give the game away like we have, I feel we’ve left people down today.
“There were no issues, but then we started dropping off and getting deep again. We didn’t defend crosses, we didn’t get tight to people and gave them time and space. But credit to North Ferriby, they stuck to their work.
“I’m here to do a job. I’ve worked hard at it, had a couple of great cup runs but the league form hasn’t been exactly where we need it to be. There’s been a lot of changes, and we need to keep pushing that on for Wrexham.”
Wilkin was relieved of his duties the following day, but what is particularly depressing is that worse was to follow…