Football: Blackburn Rovers oust Ryan Reynolds' Wrexham from FA Cup fourth round

Sammie Szmodics has scored twice, as second-tier Blackburn Rovers came from behind to beat lowly Wrexham 4-1 and secure an FA Cup fifth-round clash with English Premier League Newcastle United.

Andy Cannon fired League Two (fourth division) Wrexham ahead against the run of play in the 19th minute, but the Championship side hit back with two more first-half goals in the space of two minutes.

Szmodics, the Championship's top scorer so far this season, equalised in the 32nd from close range and Sam Gallagher made it 2-1 in the 34th, with Wrexham goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo caught on the hop and an empty net beckoning.

Wrexham celebrate their opening goal against Blackburn.
Wrexham celebrate their opening goal against Blackburn. Photo credit: Getty Images

Szmodics then grabbed his second - and fifth of the FA Cup campaign - in first-half stoppage time, before Norwegian midfielder Sondre Tronstad made it 4-1, with a deflected shot in the 59th.

Blackburn's Danish manager, Jon Dahl Tomasson, a former Newcastle player, says the Cup always holds dangers for a side like his against lower opponents.

"We started really well, could have been 2-0 up after five minutes and then we conceded a goal, but the players stayed calm," he said. "We scored three brilliant goals after that and dominated the game.

"It was a great win."

Cannon's goal was Wrexham's first real chance of the night and he blasted the ball past goalkeeper Aynsley Pears to a roar from the 7000 Wrexham fans, who had made the trip to Blackburn's Ewood Park.

Pears denied Cannon a second with a fine double save three minutes later, but there was no fairytale finish for the Welsh side, as Blackburn turned up the heat and swept the visitors aside.

Wrexham have won a new global support, since movie A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over and helped secure their return to the English Football League last season, after a 15-year absence.

Those with longer memories will know Wrexham as past giantkillers, famously dumping then-league champions Arsenal out of the FA Cup third round in a huge 1992 upset as fourth-tier opponents. In 1974, as a third-tier side, they reached the quarter-finals.

"It's a great lesson for us against better quality opponents," said Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson, serving a touchline ban. "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."

Wrexham are currently second in League Two and chasing a second successive promotion.

FA Cup holders Manchester City booked their place in the fifth round last Friday, with a 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur.