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Football: Dragons romp to cup victory; FAW PREMIER CUP FINAL WREXHAM 6 NEWPORT C 1 - Show-boating Wrexham finish promotion season in style as Newport are hit for six.

Byline: MARK CURRIE

WREXHAM rounded off their promotion season in show-boating style at the Racecourse last night,adding the FAW Premier Cup and a winner's cheque of pounds 100,000 to their immediate return to the Second Division.

The Dragons coasted to their fourth trophy success in six years against Newport County, who had disposed of both Cardiff City and Swansea City on their way to the final.

Any hopes the visitors may have entertained of claiming a hat-trick of Football League scalps vanished in the three minutes it took for the home side to open their account. The contest was as good as over by the 21st minute when Jim Whitley notched Wrexham's third.

The only consolation for Peter Nicholas' Dr Martens Premier Division outfit was runners-up prize money of pounds 50,000,but once big Dennis Lawrence rose high to head home Scott Green's third-minute corner, there was no way that his players would bridge the 53 places between the two teams in football's pyramid system.

Andy Morrell,looking to emulate the hat trick he scored at Afan Lido in the quarter-final in order to become the competition's top scorer,made a promising start when he doubled Wrexham's lead after 13 minutes.

Winning the ball himself,he exposed the weakness at the heart of the County defence by wriggling though a couple of poor tackles before clipping the ball with the outside of his right boot beyond goalkeeper Gareth Wesson.

It was his 39th goal in all competitions this season and the striker might have made it a round 40 within three minutes when Carlos Edwards,again in sparkling mood, drove to the byline before pulling back a low centre which just evaded his outstretched foot.

But the goals kept coming and midfield lynch pin Jim Whitley, deputising for the injured Darren Ferguson as the fulcrum of the side, ghosted forward after 20 minutes to round off another slick move involving Lee Trundle and the Trinidad international to make it 3-0.

Newport simply had no answer to Wrexham's passing and movement but the home side, perhaps inevitably, relaxed and the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the match, without unduly threatening recalled Welsh U21 goalkeeper Paul Whitfield in the home goal.

But it was no real surprise when County's back three were found wanting again eight minutes before the interval. Shaun Pejic, another youngster reinstated after a lengthy spell on the sidelines,picked out Trundle, who muscled his way past the burly Jeff Eckhardt before drilling a low shot with his weaker right foot past Wesson.

Interviewed on televi son following the interval, Racecourse boss Denis Smith indicated he was unhappy that his players had allowed complacency into their play. The response was immediate,if not productive.

Winning the ball from County's restart, Carlos Edwards, Trundle and Morrell were involved in an intricate passing movement that put Paul Barrett through on goal,but his effort hit the outside of the post.

Edwards retrieved possession almost straight away and Trundle's header on target was clearly punched away by Eckhardt,even though neither referee Ray Ellingham nor his two assistants saw the blatant offence. Trundle then saw a curling 25-yard shot just clear thecrossbar.

The visitors' goal was again under siege and Wesson needed to make an excellent save to deny Morrell after 63 minutes, parrying his ferocious shot behind for a corner,from which Pejic glanced a header just wide.

But the young defender did not have to wait too long for his first-ever senior goal six minutes later when the spadework was done by Edwards and Green, who laid the ball off for a cool side footed finish from Pejic from eight yards.

No sooner had someone remarked that five different players had got their name on the score sheet than Trundle grabbed his second after 73 minutes, twisting on the edge of the penalty area before thumping the ball home as only he can. The hard-working Gary Shephard was rewarded for his diligence with a well taken consolation goal for Newport 11 minutes from the end.

But by that time the competition organisers had already festooned the trophy with red and white,as opposed to amber and black ribbons.

MAN OF THE MATCH... Lee Trundle Trundle scored two goals and withstood a battering from former Cardiff defender Jeff Eckhardt

CAPTION(S):

Wrexham's man of the match Lee Trundle attacks the Newport defence (above), while(below)Andy Morrell celebrates his goal and then takes the congratulations of his team-mates Pictures: STACEY ROBERTS; Wrexham's Shaun Pejic (number 18) tussles for the ball during last night's 6-1 victory over Newport County in the FAW Premier Cup final at the Racecourse
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 9, 2003
Words:780
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