Wrexham 1 Brighton 1 (AET – 5-4 on pens): Seagulls deny non-league battlers

Wrexham 1 Brighton 1 (AET, 5-4 on pens): Spot-on Seagulls deny non-league battlers

Brighton denied Wrexham a lucrative televised tie at home to Newcastle United after beating the Welsh club on penalties at the Racecourse Ground.

The Championship side looked to be heading out as the only non-League team left in the FA Cup took the lead with player-manager Andy Morrell's first-half stunner, but Ashley Barnes levelled with 13 minutes to go and despite plenty of chances neither side could break the deadlock in extra time.

And, after substitute Dean Keates had missed for Wrexham, Craig Mackail-Smith netted the deciding spot kick for Gus Poyet's men.

Group hug: Craig Mackail-Smith is mobbed after scoring the decisive penalty

Group hug: Craig Mackail-Smith is mobbed after scoring the decisive penalty

Heartbreaking: Wrexham's players stand dejected as they go out on penalties

Heartbreaking: Wrexham's players stand dejected as they go out on penalties

Match facts

Wrexham: Mayebi, Obeng, Creighton,
Knight-Percival, Ashton, Harris, Tolley (Keates 100), Clarke, Cieslewicz, Wright (Little 59),
Morrell (Hunt 104).

Subs not used: Maxwell, Clowes, Anoruo.

Goals: Morrell 23

Booked: Obeng, Ashton, Tolley, Clarke

Brighton: Brezovan,
Calderon, Hall, Dunk, Vincelot, Navarro (Barnes 66), Bridcutt, Sparrow, Buckley,
Mackail-Smith, Hoskins (Agdestein 66).

Subs not used: Ankergren, Harley,
Kasim, Sampayo, Rodgers.

Goals: Barnes 77

Booked: Vincelot, Barnes, Sparrow

Referee: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear)

Attendance: 8,316

The gamble of handing Morrell the job of player-manager in September is already paying off with Wrexham top of the Blue Square Premier and in with a real chance of regaining their Football League status.

The 37-year-old did his best to give the club the added bonus of a place in the fourth round for the first time in 12 years when he scored a magnificent opening goal in the 23rd minute.

It was not quite on a par with Mickey Thomas's famous strike when First Division champions Arsenal became the most famous fallers here at the Racecourse back in 1992, but it was worthy of winning this game and for a long while looked as though it would.

Danny Wright made a fine run down the left and played the ball to his manager on the edge of the area. Morrell took a touch and then curled an exquisite shot beyond Brezovan and into the top corner.

Morrell had earlier squandered Wrexham's clearest opportunity when Brighton failed to deal with Neil Ashton's free-kick, and Brezovan's block at close range denied him.

Agony: Andy Morrell (second left) holds his head as his side miss a chance to take the lead in extra time

Agony: Andy Morrell (second left) holds his head as his side miss a chance to take the lead in extra time

Fellow veteran Glen Little had a chance to kill the game off in the second half, shortly after replacing Wright, who was carried off with a dislocated left elbow, but he fired over from a promising position.

Until then a stronger Brighton side than the one held to a draw on the south coast 11 days ago failed to create a clear-cut chance in a replay that had been postponed for 24 hours due to the frozen pitch.

But they equalised 13 minutes from time when Matt Sparrow clipped the ball back for substitute Barnes to rise and head in.
No stopping that: Andy Morrell scores the opening goal at the Racecourse Ground

No stopping that: Andy Morrell scores the opening goal at the Racecourse Ground

Joy: Morrell is mobbed by his team-mates after his brilliant strike gave their side the lead

Joy: Morrell is mobbed by his team-mates after his brilliant strike gave their side the lead

Ouch: Danny Wright of Wrexham lies on the pitch with a badly injured arm after a clash

Ouch: Danny Wright of Wrexham lies on the pitch with a badly injured arm after a clash

Tussle: Jamie Tolley of Wrexham competes for the ball with Liam Bridcutt of Brighton

Tussle: Jamie Tolley of Wrexham competes for the ball with Liam Bridcutt of Brighton

Catch me if you can: Adrian Cieslewicz gets away from Brighton's Matthew Sparrow (left)

Catch me if you can: Adrian Cieslewicz gets away from Brighton's Matthew Sparrow (left)

Hurdler: Morrell jumps over the challenge of Lewis Dunk

Hurdler: Morrell jumps over the challenge of Lewis Dunk