That was a marvellous FA Cup tie, played out in the old-fashioned rollercoaster tradition. Sheffield United were the better side and deserved to win, but Wrexham pushed them all the way, the final scoreline perhaps a little harsh on them. Paul Mullin will rue his missed second penalty, but he was Wrexham’s star man and scored the first one emphatically. Wrexham, their eye on promotion back to the Football League, can look forward to the rest of their season … and back on their cup run with immense pride. It’s culminated in two memorable matches in which they set one of the best teams in the Championship a real test. Sheffield United have done extremely well to pass it. What a tie! The majesty of the FA Cup, right here!
FULL TIME: Sheffield United 3-1 Wrexham
The Blades plant a dagger in the Red Dragons’ hearts late on, and will host Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round!
90 min +8: Wrexham hearts may have been broken, but in a bittersweet fashion. Their team have played marvellously, and their fans serenade the players. A lot of proud smiles in the away end.
GOAL! Sheffield United 3-1 Wrexham (Berge 90 +6)
Ndiaye dribbles down the left and glides infield. McAtee picks up possession and plays a cute pass down the inside-right channel to release Berge into the box. Berge lifts a shot across Lainton and if this wasn’t already over, it is now!
90 min +5: Wrexham launch a Hail Mary. The ball pings around the United box. Lowe kicks up onto Robinson’s arm. Wrexham want a penalty, but it’s never going to be awarded. And United break again …
GOAL! Sheffield United 2-1 Wrexham (Sharp 90+4)
Palmer has a shot on the edge of the United box. Blocked. The ball’s whacked long. Cleworth should intercept, but lets the ball roll under his foot, allowing Sharp to tear clear! He drifts in from the left channel and whistles a forensic shot across Lainton and into the bottom right. Heartbreak for Wrexham! Delight for United!
90 min +3: Berge is furious enough to talk himself into the book. Paul Heckingbottom is far from happy. But no matter, because …
90 min +2: Norwood has another dig from distance. Just to the left of the D. His drive hits the diving Cleworth on the arm. The referee isn’t interested in giving the penalty … but VAR surely would have done. Cleworth’s arms were well away from his body. Perhaps the short distance between the players saved Wrexham there.
90 min: … and there will be six added minutes. Plenty of time for someone to find a dramatic winner. Can Sheffield United break Wrexham hearts in injury time again?
89 min: Berge bursts down the right and cuts back for Norwood, romping in from deep. Norwood absolutely pearls a drive goalward, only for Lee to throw himself at the ball to block. From the resulting corner, Egan rises at the right-hand post, but can’t cause any trouble. Wrexham are suddenly hanging on a bit here.
88 min: Ndiaye and McAtee combine at pace down the middle. The ball’s shipped left to Robinson, who can’t get a shot away but earns a throw. That throw on the left is shuttled out to the other flank. Norwood swings in for Sharp, who bundles a close-range shot into the right-hand side of the net! But the flag goes up for offside. It’s the correct decision. Wrexham breathe again!
86 min: McAtee pings a long pass down the inside-right channel. Sharp gets it under control and enters the box, but slashes at his shot, the ball sailing high and wide right from ten yards. Hardly a missed sitter, but a good chance nonetheless.
84 min: Berge’s speculative shot is deflected out for a corner on the left. It’s worked back up the flank. Norwood swings it in low, and Palmer gets down to head out for another corner. This one’s battered clear by Bickerstaff. Extra time begins to loom.
82 min: … but the Wrexham manager doesn’t want to risk his star man, and quickly pulls rank. Up goes the board and off Mullin trudges. Cannon also departs. On come Bickerstaff and Lee. Mullin’s clearly broken-hearted – the penalty miss won’t be helping his mood – but he still rallies the away fans as he departs, then gives his replacement all the encouragement he can.
81 min: Mullin goes down, having felt a tweak after chasing Berge. Phil Parkinson wants to sub him, and there’s a long argument between them. The player wins the row and plays on!
79 min: Norwood attempts to wedge Osborn clear into the United box down the inside-left channel. Cleworth heads clears just in time.
77 min: Ahmedhodzic is replaced by Lowe.
76 min: Confirmation that Egan was earlier booked for dissent after the award of the first Wrexham penalty.
74 min: Lennon is replaced by Tom O’Connor. A certain generation will think only of this.
73 min: Sheffield United counter straight from the save. They’re three on two! McAtee attempts to slide Ndiaye clear down the middle, but the striker runs slap bang into Tozer. United claim it’s a foul, and a potential red card with Tozer being the last man, but the referee’s not interested. The Bramall Lane faithful aren’t happy, but we play on.
72 min: Mullin pulls the trigger … but instead of going straight down the middle, he blasts left. It’s not the worst effort, hit high and with pace, but Davies sticks up a strong arm to parry clear! That’s more excellent save than miss!
Penalty for Wrexham!
71 min: There’s no doubt about this one! McAlinden plays a cute ball in from the left touchline. Mullin runs in front of Norwood to meet it. Norwood doesn’t spot him coming, and clips his man to the floor! The referee points to the spot, again, and well, well, well.
70 min: “If there were VAR I have no doubt that the penalty would’ve been changed to a free kick on the edge of the box, but the foul by Ahmedhodzic was so boneheaded that a spot kick was the morally correct outcome.” Kári Tulinius can speak for me. VAR can do one.
69 min: McAlinden crosses low from the left. Ahmedhodzic blocks. Another chance for a long Tozer throw. Davies punches half-clear. Then flaps half-clear. McAlinden’s snapshot is blocked. Eventually United tidy things up, but Wrexham are asking the hosts all sorts of questions here.
67 min: United go up the other end, McAtee’s dink in from the right headed over by Sharp at the far post. They then replace Coulibaly with Norwood.
66 min: The corner’s hit long from the right and flicked on. Cannon tries to get a shot in from a tight angle on the left, but instead rolls back to Jones, who attempts a curler from the edge of the box. It’s not all that.
65 min: Palmer drops deep and sprays a delicious ball wide right for Jones, who looks like romping clear down the wing only to be crunched by Robinson’s no-holds-barred last-ditch tackle. The ball pings out for a throw, which is flug into the mixer by Tozer, and leads to a corner.
63 min: Palmer and Mullin link up down the inside-right channel. Palmer clatters into Basham and claims another penalty, but Wrexham have had one decision go their way, and they aren’t getting this one. “Can you have a foul and a dive at the same time?” wonders Samuel Campbell. “He is definitely pulled back but usually when you are pulled back you don’t fall forward like that. Great penalty all the same. Game on.”
62 min: Wrexham were preparing a double change before the penalty. They make it regardless. Mendy and Dalby are replaced by Palmer and McAlinden.
61 min: There’s a pause as a red flare has been thrown into the United box. That’s Wrexham red, as opposed to Sheffield United red, naturally. Eventually we restart.
GOAL! Sheffield United 1-1 Wrexham (Mullin 59 pen)
Mullin sends the penalty straight down the middle, roofing it. Davies dived out of the way, which is just as well, because had he stayed put, it’d have most likely taken his head off. Wrexham are back in this tie! Again!
Penalty for Wrexham!
57 min: Mullin tries to spin Ahmedhodzic down the inside-left channel. He can’t get away, but only because Ahmedhodzic had a fistful of his shirt! Mullin goes over, right on the edge of the area. The referee points to the spot! VAR might have overruled that – the initial contact was outside the area, though Mullin fell inside – but there’s no such thing here tonight! Penalty it is!
56 min: United should be two up. McAtee tears into acres of space down the right and tees up his man perfectly this time. He rolls across to Sharp, who slams his shot straight at Lainton. And that’s a costly miss, because …
54 min: Space for Ahmedhodzic on the right. He’s got the option of releasing Basham on the overlap, but instead curls a stunning low outswinging cross towards the far stick. It just evades both Sharp and Ndiaye, who applaud his team-mates delivery. That would have been one hell of an assist to follow his aforementioned finish.
52 min: That was one hell of a finish by Ahmedhodzic. The keeper was beaten at his near post, but he really couldn’t do too much about that. It was a lovely move down the inside-right flank by United.
GOAL! Sheffield United 1-0 Wrexham (Ahmedhodzic 50)
It’s been all Wrexham since the restart … but it’s United who take the lead. Basham plays a clever ball in from the right. McAtee slips it immediately down the inside-right channel for Ahmedhodzic, steaming into the box along the channel. Ahmedhodzic lines himself up and roofs a shot over Lainton and into the top-right corner. Unstoppable!
49 min: United can’t keep hold of the ball at the minute, and now Tozer has the opportunity to Delap a throw in from the left. He’s got more scope for a run-up on this side of the pitch, and launches this one towards the edge of the six-yard box. United half-clear again, whereupon Forde, in space down the right, has the opportunity to flick Mullin clear … but doesn’t spot his team-mate making the run.
47 min: Young looks for Lennon at the near post but Egan clears, albeit at the cost of another throw. Tozer fizzes that one in too, and Egan deals with the danger again. An impressive start to the half by the underdogs, though.
46 min: Wrexham immediately win a throw deep in United territory down the right. Tozer flings it in. The ball pings off Robinson and out for a corner. Young to take.
Wrexham get the second half underway. No changes.
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HALF TIME: Sheffield United 0-0 Wrexham
Sheffield United have had the better chances. Had McAtee and Ndiaye kept their heads, they’d be in the lead. But as things stand, non-league Wrexham are holding a team who may be playing Premier League football next season. The fairytale of a home fifth-round tie against Tottenham Hotspur remains alive for the Red Dragons.
45 min +1: One corner leads to another, then Wrexham attempt to break upfield. Coulibaly wrestles Mullin, then handballs, and goes into the referee’s notebook.
45 min: McAtee tees up Berge, 20 yards out. He takes his eye off the ball and loses the chance to shoot first time. He eventually shoots, winning a corner.
43 min: “How did that not end in a Blades goal?” asks Mary Waltz of the McAtee-Ndiaye break. “Is it the Magic of the Cup? Is God a Dragon”? Or is crushing reality about to put a pin in the Wrexham balloon?” On ITV, Ally McCoist has just answered the first question. Ndiaye should have held his run, making it easy for McAtee to roll across and tee him up. But he went too early, possibly bringing offside into play, a state of affairs which may have made McAtee’s mind up for him.
41 min: A United corner from the right this time. Osborn pulls it back for Berge, whose shot on the penalty spot is blocked. Then the flag goes up for unnecessary argy-bargy in the middle.
39 min: Yet another United corner down the left. Osborn finds the head of Egan, who sends an unmarked effort over the bar.
37 min: Tozer buys a ticket to the raffle from 25 yards out on the right. His rising, swerving shot heads for the top left. It’s an easy enough parry for Davies in the end, but at least Wrexham have now warmed the United keeper’s hands.
36 min: Sharp attempts a curler from the edge of the Wrexham box but it’s straight at the keeper. Wrexham counter, Dalby crossing low from the left, Mullin denied on the penalty spot by Egan, who takes the ball off his toe.