A game of perspectives, as Wrexham will now have to face Sheffield United in a replay of the FA Cup Fourth Round.
With the eyes of the world once again on Wrexham, the stage was set for what was to be a momentous FA Cup Fourth Round.
Although flying high in the Championship, United’s manager Paul Heckingbottom was wary of the unbeaten record at the Racecourse Ground for the Red Dragons.
This fortress was seemingly dismantled in the first ten minutes.
Ollie McBurnie would make a run to the front post just after the first minute of the tie to head home Tom Doyle’s corner.
The worst possible start then got worse, as Jordan Tunnicliffe would be forced off the field injured following the goal and a persistent Aaron Hayden would follow suit in the eleventh minute.
Max Cleworth would join the back three off the bench, before Tom O’Connor would drop back into the trio, with James Jones coming on to align himself in the midfield.
Phil Parkinson exclaimed post-match that a lesser side could have easily been thumped 5-0 in this situation, but not Wrexham.
Cleworth is often called upon in big games for which he always performs and yesterday was no different. He simply rises to whatever challenge is placed in front of him, with the young centre back perfecting the basics of defending.
After a brief period of settling down with the unforeseeable shake-up, Wrexham got to grips with the affair.
The release ball to a forever running Paul Mullin was constantly on, more so than ever. An experienced backline containing the likes of John Egan and Chris Basham were struggling to contain the number 10, as he cleverly used his strength and pace to create opportunities for himself.
Aside from various penalty shouts, Wrexham were creating meaningful chances inside the Blades’ box, but half-time would be called and Wrexham would be trailing.
Relief that Sheffield failed to pounce on the early setbacks for Wrexham, but perhaps an equal annoyance that we still trailed at the break.
Wrexham have a habit of striking around the hour mark, but the Red Dragons were not intent of allowing any period of lull in this game, on the back of the strong end to the first half.
Five minutes after the restart, James Jones would scoop the ball from around his body into Sheffield’s net, as he was initially facing away from the goal. The ball had rebounded off McBurnie’s head and Jones did tremendously well to direct the ball home from the position he was in.
The habit mentioned of scoring around the hour mark would take place once more. Whether it be from a Ben Tozer long throw or any type of set piece, if defences fail to deal with the initial ball, Wrexham are experts in seizing the opportunity.
This time, the ball deflected off substitute Bill Sharp from a Luke Young corner and O’Connor would be on hand to slam the ball home with a lethal left foot.
O’Connor and Jones are certainly two men who are in a rich vein of form at the moment.
A sucker punch would be dealt back by the Blades though, as Oliver Norwood would pass the ball into the net past a sprawling Mark Howard and Tozer. It would be Wrexham falling short this time, failing to clear the ball multiple times.
Wrexham had dominated the half, but found themselves pegged back. With 25 minutes left on the clock, the feeling of ‘do or die’ was prominent.
A goal would not be the next decisive event in this game though, as Daniel Jebbison was sent off for an altercation with Tozer. The issue happened right in front of the fourth official, who helped instruct Dean Whitestone to show the Blades forward a red card.
A huge boost for Wrexham and they instantly took the assurgency, as Ollie Palmer crashed an effort off the underside of the bar for the ball to bounce agonisingly in front of the line. The ball also seemed to strike the outstretched arm of Anel Ahmedhodzic from Sam Dalby’s cross a second before, but no penalty was given.
Wrexham kept pushing and the third goal would come; fittingly for Mullin after a tremendous performance. After sorting the ball out from underneath his feet from a Dalby cross, Mullin would stab the ball through the legs of Adam Davies to send Wrexham fans into delirium once more.
Credit must be bestowed onto Dalby, as the Wrexham striker continues to provide assists, just adding to the threat we have up front.
Wrexham’s ability to see out and win games this season has been applauded, but Egan would shatter hearts in the 95th minute. A Blades corner would just evade the head of Dalby in the middle of the box, allowing Egan to sneak around the back and force home an equaliser.
Heartache for Wrexham at the death, even though we had earnt a replay against the 22nd ranked team in the English football system.
A game where we were severe underdogs, yet should have won when the final whistle was blown.
Perspectives will always play a part in the emotions surrounding football results, especially in a game of this magnitude. However, we now have the ability to prove ourselves once more at Bramall Lane in the replay of the FA Cup Fourth Round.