How do you follow last Sunday's epic? It was the FA Cup tie that had everything, and when the dust settled the two sides couldn't be settled, so we go again! The Blades will, obviously, be strong favourites, but Wrexham's form is magnificent and there's no doubt the players are full of self-belief.
Wrexham maintained their winning streak in the league on Saturday with a 2-1 victory at Altrincham. The injuries picked up against United meant Phil Parkinson had to reshuffle his side, and there was a suspicion of unfamiliarity behind a disjointed first half performance. However, after the break The Red Dragons looked more like their usual selves, and earned a 2-1 win thanks to goals by Ollie Palmer and debutant Eoghan O'Connell.
O'Connell isn't available for the replay though, having not been signed before the initial tie was played. With Jordan Tunnicliffe and Aaron Hayden still recovering from the injuries they suffered in that match, it's likely Parkinson will have to revert back to a similar line-up to the one he was forced into when the defensive duo suffered those disruptive early blows.
As for United, they made five changes from the side which played at The Racecourse, but had to endure a frustrating ninety minutes in Rotherham. Despite throwing everything they could at their South Yorkshire neighbors, The Blades couldn't force a breakthrough, but they still remain in an enviable position, ten points clear of third placed Middlesbrough with a game in hand.
Tommy Doyle missed the game, having not trained since the Wrexham game due to a tight calf, whie Daniel Jebbison will definitely be absent from the replay as he will be serving the second of his three match ban for his dismissal at The Racecourse.
The transfer deadline has passed since we last met, and the good news is that The Blades didn't lose any of the star players who had been attracting jealous glances from Premier League clubs. Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge remain at Bramall Lane, although Berge has reportedly suggested that his intention is to run his contract down and leave on a free transfer in 2024.
Off the pitch, the transfer embargo appears to remain in place with speculation mounting that an 18-month sanction might be in the pipeline. Blades fans' sense of unease has multiplied after the Daily Mail claimed that prospective new owner Dozy Mmobuosi, who is believed to have made a £90 million bid, might not have the wherewithal to complete the deal. They suggest his tech company, Tingo, has lost 94% of its value over the last twelve months.
Manager Paul Heckingbottom has sensibly declared that he isn't going to field any further questions on the takeover, as he wants to focus on football.
He told YorkshireLive, "It's irrelevant to us. The lads have been brilliant. You don't go unbeaten on the run we're on if you haven't got that focus. The lads are good. They haven't looked for excuses from day one. We speak about it a lot, no excuses. Simple, no excuses and we don't expect anything less.
"Stuff that could potentially be a distraction we just don't entertain it. We have had the talk of the embargo, takeover but not on the training ground."
The club will tell you something when they have something to say. Football and the players are my focus. We know we have a busy couple of weeks coming up with Wrexham now at the forefront of our mind.
- Paul Heckingbottom
LAST TIME WE MET
WREXHAM 3 (Jones, 50, O'Connor 61, Mullin 86) SHEFFIELD UNITED 3 (McBurnie 2, Norwood 65, Egan 90+5)
WREXHAM: M Howard, J Tunnicliffe (M Cleworth, 5), B Tozer, C McFadzean (S Dalby, 75), A Forde, A Hayden (J Jones, 11), T O'Connor, E Lee, L Young, P Mullin, O Palmer
Unused subs: J Bickerstaff, R Lainton, A Cannon, H Lennon, R Hall-Johnson, L McAlinden
SHEFFIELD UNITED: A Davies, A Ahmedhodzic (I Coulibaly, 87), J Egan, C Basham, B Osborn (I Ndiaye, 58), T Doyle, J Bogle, J Mcatee (M Lowe, 45), O Norwood, O McBurnie (B Sharp, 58), D Jebbison (sent off 71)
Unused subs: J Robinson, W Foderingham, L Marsh, S Sachdev
Referee: Dean Whitestone
HEAD TO HEAD
We've played at Bramall Lane three times, and are still looking for our first win. Our first game there was a Second Division match in April 1979: our first campaign in the second tier was drawing to a close, and we'd secured a comfortabe mid-table finish, while the Blades were mired in the relegation zone.
We were the better side in the opening stages and took the lead when Steve Buxton's header was turned into his own net by Blades defender Les Tibbott. Wrexham defended the lead well until the 34th minute, when a Bruce Rioch free kick was diverted in by Tony Kenworthy. United improved from that point, but Wrexham's defence held firm to claim a point.
The next time we met both sides had slipped into the Third Division. The Blades had suffered a poor start to the season, having earned one point in their previous 4 games, failing to score in the process. However, they tok control from the start, taking the lead when Phil Bater handled the ball, allowing Colin Morris to score from the spot. The pressure continued by Eddie Niedzwiecki kept United at bay with a superb string of saves. United also hit the woodwork three times - one of those efforts coming from future Wrexham skipper Steve Charles - while Steve Dowman headed a Bob Atkins shot off the line.
The second goal was bound to come, andit was Keith Edwards who came off the bench to provide it in the 78th minute, although his chipped finish from a tight angle appeared to be intended as a cross. Wrexham suddenly found some energy after going two down, and Steve Conroy has to make two fine saves to deny Ian Arkwright and Medwyn Evans. The latter was making his debut at the age of 17, having replaced the injured Gareth Davies in the 47th minute. Sadly, Davies would only play one more game, a fortnight later, before injury forced him into retirement.
Our third game away to Sheffield United was a League Cup tie in 1997 which we described in last week's preview.
Liam McAlinden's 300th career appearance.