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REVIEW | Sheffield United 3-1 Wrexham

An all-inspiring FA Cup run draws to its conclusion

8 February 2023

Feature

REVIEW | Sheffield United 3-1 Wrexham

An all-inspiring FA Cup run draws to its conclusion

8 February 2023

Last gasp goals from the Blades would once again crush Wrexham hearts, as they scored twice in stoppage time to overcome the Red Dragons.

With a plethora of injuries, the focus pre-match would once again turn to Phil Parkinson’s decided starting eleven. 

Rob Lainton, Harry Lennon and Andy Cannon were among five changes to the starting side who beat Altrincham late on. 

With minutes scarce for all three, there would have been understandable nerves over the question of how rusty they all were. 

The Blades dominated the first half, as the well organised Wrexham unit failed to retain possession and push forward out of their defensive block. 

With that being said, United’s multitude of efforts on goal did little to trouble Lainton. However, any cross or shot that he claimed, he did so with authority, which further installed confidence in the defence. 

Lennon gave comfort to all Wrexham fans watching, as he dealt with any danger with competence. Whilst Cannon gave glimpses to the Reds with just what he could do going forward. 

The fear of rustiness in the side was dispelled, but Parkinson’s men still struggled to progress into United’s half. 

Both teams entered half time with the score goalless, but the home side well and truly should have been a couple of goals ahead. James McAtee missed a glorious opportunity near the half hour mark, when Sheffield United had their first real counterattack of the game, as he rolled the ball wide instead of squaring the ball across to Iliman Ndiaye. 

James Jones commenced the second half and the game was flipped on its head. Wrexham were now holding the ball up in the midfield better, allowing the team to move forward and create opportunities. 

Despite the positive start to the second half, United would finally get their goal. Anel Ahmedhodžić came rushing out of nowhere to join the attack and was failed to be picked up by any Wrexham shirt, allowing him to play a one-two with Ben Osborn and smash the ball into the roof of Lainton’s net at the near post. 

Lainton distilling confidence into the team was further helped by his incredible point-blank saves throughout the match. A notable one coming against Sharp in the 57th minute. 

The theme of scoring on and around the hour mark would continue for the boys in blue though, as Mullin carried on giving the Blades defence nightmares and won a penalty for Wrexham. 

John Egan holding onto Mullin’s shirt whilst running into the box would be the cause of the referee’s decision. 

Mullin made no doubt from the spot as he blasted the ball down the centre of the goal to level the score in the 59th minute. 

After winning and scoring the first penalty, Mullin didn’t relent. An exquisite ball from substitute Liam McAlinden on the left-wing glided into the box to an on-running Mullin. Oliver Norwood then made a sweeping tackle from the side to give the referee no other option than to award another penalty for Wrexham, after taking out the number ten. 

The art of taking penalties plays more on the mental side of a footballer, rather than their finishing attributes. Although having a pre-decided avenue for a second penalty, Mullin’s spot-kick would be saved by Adam Davies, after diving to his right. 

As the game drew closer to 90 minutes, Wrexham would have a decision of whether to park the bus and hold on for extra time (with the possibility of a counterattacking goal), or go outright for the win.  

In light of the bombardment we faced at Coventry City towards the end of that game and the Egan 95th minute equaliser in the reverse fixture, holding on for dear life was a fearful prospect.  

It felt as though Wrexham were indeed holding on until the 93rd minute, when Wrexham moved into the United box through Ollie Palmer. 

His drilled shot was blocked and the Blades cleared. The clearance bounced at the feet of Max Cleworth just inside the Wrexham half and squeezed through his attempted long barrier for the most unfortunate moment. Sharp was then slotted through, before he cut inside to bypass a scampering Ben Tozer to roll the ball into Lainton’s far corner. 

To add to the late heartbreak, Wrexham were faced with another red and white stampede when pushing for a second equaliser. They would fail to track a run once more and Sander Berge would fire the ball into the far top corner to hand Sheffield United a place in the 5th Round of the FA Cup.  

Ironically in the face of the first half, Wrexham would fall short to two counterattacks and be unstuck twice by not reacting to clever runs in-behind inside the box. 

What ifs would drum through the heads of the Wrexham faithful, with the heartbreak of the first fixture and Mullin’s missed penalty in the second, but a sense of pride in the FA Cup run remains foremost. 

Parkinson stated post-match how it was great to see how we contested games against bigger sides in English football, with a hopeful taste of things to come in the future. 

 

 

 


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