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Two late goals from Billy Sharp and Sander Berge gave Sheffield United a thrilling victory over Wrexham at Bramall Lane to set up an FA Cup fifth-round meeting with Tottenham at the expense of the Welsh hopefuls. Wrexham, who are co-owned by American actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, went into Tuesday’s fourth-round replay with high hopes of pulling off another incredible upset but were left empty-handed after a late push from the Blades denied them a glamour tie against one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
Wrexham once again did not look out of place against a side three divisions above them after forcing a 3-3 draw in the original tie, with the plucky Welsh hopefuls going toe-to-toe for the vast majority of proceedings. They had plenty of chances throughout the opening 45 minutes but were lucky to avoid going behind prior to the interval when James McAtee raced through on goal unopposed before inexplicably firing wide.
The Manchester City loanee was played through on the halfway line and managed to break away from Wrexham’s back four while flanked by Ilman Ndiaye, who was lingering in anticipation of his team-mate squaring the ball for an easy tap-in. The crucial pass never came, though, and McAtee was forced to rue his decision to go alone when he failed to hit the target from the edge of the penalty area.
The hosts eventually drew first blood five minutes into the second half through Anel Ahmedhodzic, who finished off a sweeping team move from close range to give Sheffield United a welcome advantage. However, it didn’t last long as Wrexham were awarded a fortunate penalty just nine minutes later for a foul on Mullin that appeared to have mostly taken place outside the box.
Mullin stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards as he smashed the ball into the middle of the goal, leaving home goalkeeper Adam Davies helpless to prevent the National League promotion chasers from levelling the scoreline. The Wrexham forward was given another chance to score from the spot just minutes later but was unable to repeat his previous heroics as Davies guessed correctly to parry the ball away from danger.
Sheffield United began to turn the screw as the clock ticked down, with Sharp bundling the ball home with two minutes remaining only to see his effort ruled out for an offside in the build-up. The Blades were then denied a penalty of their own for what appeared to be a clear handball inside the area that diverted Oliver Norwood’s shot away from the goal.
The Championship outfit had the last laugh, though, when Sharp wrapped up a devastating counter-attack with a composed finish into the bottom corner deep into stoppage time to send them through into the next round at the expense of their Welsh opponents. Berge then added the icing on the cake for Sheffield United at the end of another quick break to send Bramall Lane into raptures and put a cruel end to Wrexham’s hopes of extending their remarkable FA Cup run.
Wrexham will undoubtedly be proud of their efforts after pushing Sheffield United all the way in their bid to set up a historic meeting with Tottenham, although they ultimately came up short in spite of their best efforts over the course of Tuesday’s hugely exciting contest. It remains to be seen if they will be able to respond by going on to secure a long-awaited return to the EFL at the end of the season, with Phil Parkinson’s side just three points adrift of leaders Notts County at the top end of the National League table.
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