Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney move closer to Wrexham dream

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Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds, center left, and Rob McElhenney, center right, react during the National League match between Wrexham and Notts County at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, Wales, Monday April 10, 2023. (Barrington Coombs/PA via AP)

WREXHAM – Ryan Reynolds punched the air before turning to embrace Rob McElhenney as the Hollywood stars moved a big step closer to their dream of leading Welsh soccer team Wrexham to promotion.

The pair celebrated at the end of a game that had all the thrills of a big screen blockbuster and the ultimate twist as former Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster pulled off a penalty save in the seventh minute of stoppage time to secure a 3-2 win against closest rival Notts County on Monday.

“I don’t think I have a heart anymore,” Reynolds said afterward. “I think I used all the beats I had left during that match. That was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”

Wrexham, which has been given A-list sparkle after being bought by the two actors, moved three points clear at the top of the fifth-tier National League with a game in hand.

Elliot Lee's 78th-minute strike was the decisive goal after both teams had led during the match. But it was Foster's save to deny Cedwyn Scott that secured victory and put the fourth tier of English soccer within sight.

“When I get my hands on Ben Foster he’s going to be on the injured reserve list because I’m going to break ribs,” Reynolds said. “I’m going to hug him so hard.”

It had been billed as possibly the biggest game in the history of soccer at this level — and it didn't disappoint.

Wrexham has gained global recognition since being taken over by Reynolds and McElhenney and featuring in a television series that streams worldwide. Both teams went into the match on 100 points each, with County topping the table on goal difference. Only one team is automatically promoted and Wrexham now leads the way after this crucial win. Wrexham has four games left to play in the season.

John Bostock fired County ahead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time with a free kick.

Paul Mullin evened the score in the 50th and Jacob Mendy put Wrexham ahead in the 69th as Reynolds and McElhenney watched on at the Racecourse Ground.

Celebrations from the home fans were cut short, however, when Kyle Cameron equalized for the visitors in the 75th.

Lee struck three minutes later to put Wrexham on course for victory.

That was before Eoghan O’Connell was adjudged to handle in the box and County had the chance to level the score once again from the penalty spot.

But Foster, who only stepped out of retirement last month to join Wrexham on a short-term deal, proved the hero with his last-gasp save.

“I’m used to working under extreme pressure I think, but usually I have some kind of say in it,” Reynolds said. “I have control over it. I have nothing here. All I can do is watch and hope like everybody else.”

Earlier in the day, Reynolds and McElhenny were awarded the Freedom of Wrexham at a civic ceremony.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports