Wrexham manager Steve Dale aims to end ‘outstanding’ season with Bute Energy Welsh Cup triumph

One year ago, Wrexham were celebrating promotion to the Genero Adran Premier. Now, they are 90 minutes away from winning their first Bute Energy Welsh Cup.

This campaign has certainly been one to remember for the club and their adoring fans, and manager Steve Dale says this season has been a real success.

“It’s been an outstanding season, especially with it being our first year in the Adran Premier. I don’t think a lot of people would have expected us to do what we’ve done, especially after watching the play-off final against Briton Ferry.

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“Quite a few teams would have written us off early days, but we’ve gone about our business quietly, we’ve been efficient, secured a third-place finish, and it’s an amazing achievement.”

So many players have stood out in Wrexham’s first season back in the top-flight. Right-back Phoebe Davies won the Players’ Player of the Year award this week, and the industrious defender has been an ever present this season. Dale was full of praise for his standout performer.

“As soon as we had the conversation with Phoebe about trying to get her into Wrexham, we knew exactly what she’d bring to us. Her experience is unbelievable, she had a fantastic career before she joined the club. Being a mother as well, she uses that personality trait to help the younger players. 

“She’s seen as one of the more senior members of the team, but you know what you’re going to get from Phoebe. She gives a nine out of ten performance every week, she’s so consistent. She’s been asked to play in a number of positions this season and hasn’t moaned once. She’s just cracked on and been really effective wherever she’s played. She’s a credit to the club, and we’re very lucky to have players like Phoebe representing us.”

Another player who has shone this year has been Lili Jones. The youngster recorded two goals and seven assists in the Genero Adran Premier, and Dale firmly believes Jones can go all the way to the top.

“Lili has the potential to go all the way. We’re really privileged to have a player like Lili with us. You still have to pinch yourself when you realise, she’s only 18! She’s so mature with a really good head on her shoulders, and she’s a real credit to her family with the way she conducts herself.

“She’s Wrexham through and through, so you know you’re going to get 110% from her. The way she’s had her upbringing around clubs like Everton, representing Wales at youth level, you can see the full potential of Lili.”

Wrexham will need those two and more on Sunday, as they prepare to take on Cardiff City at Rodney Parade. This will be the sixth time the two have faced off this season, and Dale knows the task facing his side.

“It’s always a tough game against Cardiff. They’ve been outstanding in the league and getting those results week in and week out, and we’ve got to give them the respect they deserve. Even though the scorelines against them don’t reflect it, the games don’t reflect how we feel those games have gone. We manage to get a lot of positives out of those games, and to run them close those times has been fantastic. 

“We have been able to find positives against them and cause them problems, but we know Sunday has to be a complete performance. We have to be better than what we have been, because we’ve conceded far too many goals against them. They’re strong all over the pitch and can change things during the game, and we have to be ready for that and to adapt quickly. It’s a cup final, league form goes out the window, so anything can happen.”

Having only scored three and conceded 20 in those five games, Wrexham look to have a monumental task on their hands, but Dale wants to change that, and knows what his team have to do differently this time around.

“The start of the game is vital for us. We’ve been on the back foot and looked a little nervy against them early on, and then you find yourself a goal down within five minutes, momentum goes against you, and everything you’ve been working on changes quickly.

“If we get a good start in the opening 20 minutes, it will allow us to build and progress through the game. Cardiff are ruthless, they can take the game away from you, and we’ve been guilty of missing a lot of chances against them. We have to match that ruthlessness and we have to be resilient.”

If they manage to navigate past the Bluebirds, Sunday will cap off what has been an unforgettable year for the club. The manager knows what a win would mean, and he wants to do it for everyone associated with the club.

“Winning the Bute Energy Welsh Cup would mean everything. There’s a lot of sacrifice and hard work that’s gone in to get us into this position. We pinpointed the fact that one of the cups could be a chance for silverware for us.

“We’ve managed to get to a final, all the preparation is done, and it’s important we turn up on the day. To bring that trophy back, it rewards all the hard work the players, staff, and supporters have put in, and we want to reward the club with the backing they’ve given us. It would mean everything to cap off a brilliant season.”

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