MEL PEJIC admits he had mixed emotions when Denis Smith was forced into making an early substitution on Wrexham's special day at The Millennium Stadium.

Centre-back Steve Roberts sustained a knee injury in the LDV Vans Trophy final against Southend and after having treatment from Pejic, a former Reds' defender-turned physio, he couldn't continue.

It was a huge blow for Roberts and Wrexham boss Smith decided to bring on Shaun Pejic in his place after 15 minutes.

The replacement centre-back is son of Mel who felt sorry for Roberts but was happy to see Shaun get his chance on the big stage.

"Steve was playing really well and he was a great lad," said Pejic.

"Shaun was on the bench and came on so for me it was mixed emotions in a strange sort of way.

"Steve was key for us at that time and Shaun was trying to make his way, and it was really unfortunate that Steve picked up an injury on the day.

"It was really disappointing for Steve because you know how much it means to these players; you get to a cup final, you want to play in it and impose yourself on the game.

"Steve decided he couldn't continue and Denis decided that Shaun was his replacement. I was obviously delighted to see my son going on but disappointed for Steve that he was coming off."

Wrexham went onto win the showpiece 2-0 thanks to goals in either half of extra-time from Juan Ugarte and Darren Ferguson.

"It was brilliant for us and all the Wrexham supporters who had come down," said Pejic.

"It was an amazing day and a nice reward for everybody who had stuck by the club, and all the players and staff who had backed everything up that we had done in the previous years.

"It was a good trophy to win, but it was a difficult season."

Pejic was referring to the fact that crisis-club Wrexham were battling to avoid relegation from League One and also faced an uncertain future.

The club was forced to enter administration after owner Alex Hamilton rejected a series of takeover bids and handed a 10-point deduction which saw the Reds plummet from mid-table into the drop zone.

It was a punishment Wrexham failed to recover from as they were relegated to League Two soon after winning the LDV Vans Trophy in the Welsh capital.

But Pejic insists victory in a major final was a fantastic achievement considering all the off-the-field problems that had rocked the club.

"There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes that Denis was well aware of and trying to manage from his point of view," said Pejic, who was part of the Wrexham side that won promotion from Division Three in 1992-3.

"As staff, we tried to deflect that from the players as much as we could.

"We had the points deduction and were dealing with a potential relegation but the flip side of that was doing well in the LDV Vans Trophy.

"I have been looking back at some of the old programmes and I have even got a signed shirt up in the house with all the players and staff on it.

"It was amazing getting to the final and going down to Cardiff a couple of days beforehand to prepare for a cup final was special for all the lads because it was not normal.

"The build-up was good and we went around the stadium with the lads beforehand which was a good experience for everybody involved at the time.

"It was fantastic to win the game."