Cristiano Ronaldo blank for Exeter: Manchester United’s previous non-league fixtures

It may be a game played in San Diego, but Manchester United’s upcoming pre-season game against Wrexham is a game made in Hollywood. Erik ten Hag’s men will take on Phil Parkinson’s Red Dragons in the Welsh side’s first appearance in the United States.

It’s yet another example of the influence star owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney wield, including the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s involvement in the video announcing the matchup.

Naturally, it’s not very often that the Reds take on a non-league team, unless they’re up against a potential banana-skin cup. By the time the current season comes to a close, Wrexham may have re-established themselves in the Football League, with them sitting first in the National League at the time of writing. But the news is the perfect opportunity to look at United’s record against the minnows of the soccer world, and it’s not quite as brilliant as you might expect.

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In February 1949 Yeovil Town became the second non-league team to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, winning a tie against United at Maine Road. It turned out to be more than comfortable, with an 8-0 win for the Manchester Reds.

It certainly wasn’t so easy in 1953, when lowly Walthamstow Avenue won a famous replay thanks to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Ultimately, the tie would be settled by a 5–2 margin when the teams met again, but this match marked the ordeals United would face whenever non-league teams called.

Jumping forward to 2005, Exeter City won a replay, frustrating United in their own patch to hold on to a 0-0 draw. The third round tie was just about the biggest upset of the FA Cup, as Exeter missed many chances to at least take the lead, while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes failed to influence play once from the bench.

In the lucrative rematch for the non-league club, it would take goals from the Portuguese star and Wayne Rooney to finally defeat an energetic Exeter side, in a season that saw United reach the final, only to lose 5- 4 on penalties against Arsenal. .


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