Wrexham came so close. They were just three minutes away from pulling off another FA Cup giant-killing, before Sheffield United’s late equaliser saw them rescue a 3-3 draw. But despite John Egan’s heart-breaking goal, the Welsh side and Ryan Reynolds, should be incredibly proud of their inspired performance.
Against a side that looks destined for promotion back to the Premier League this season, Wrexham were brilliant. They came from one goal down to take the lead twice and were only denied the victory by a devastating Egan equaliser from a set-piece.
And this wasn’t a second-string Sheffield United either. Paul Heckingbottom may have made five changes but this was a strong version of the razor-sharp Blades blunted by Wrexham. Despite taking the lead in the opening minute, they travel back up north having rescued a replay in added time with ten men, when it looked like they were heading out.
- Wrexham are making incredible progress under Reynolds and McElhenney
- Liverpool dumped out of the FA Cup
- Zinchenko: the one that got away for Pep Guardiola
The Welsh side, with owner Reynolds in attendance, made a nightmare start. From a Tommy Doyle corner, Oli McBurnie was left unmarked and headed home after 64 seconds. Then Phil Parkinson was forced to substitute two injured centre-backs in the opening ten minutes. For all the world it looked like the fairy tale run would come to a drab end.
But the National League leaders are made of stern stuff. Paul Mullin began to work his magic as the visitors began to lose their grip on the tie. The former Cambridge United striker was a constant threat, harrying defenders and firing efforts at goal. After such an impressive performance, it looked like he had stolen the headlines with the winning goal, which came with just five minutes of normal time left. But it wasn’t to be.
It took until the second half for them to turn the game around as the home fans got the three-sided stadium rocking. Sheffield United somehow escaped after a goalmouth scramble at the start of the second half but from a devastating Ben Tozer long throw, the Blades failed to clear and Jamie Jones tapped home from close range to send those in attendance absolutely wild.
It was a weapon the home side relied upon throughout, and another set-piece would put them in front. Their esteemed visitors failed to clear a corner and it dropped down for Thomas O’Connor to drill the ball in from close range. He kept them in the competition with an equaliser against Blyth Spartans in the Fourth Qualifying Round, and now he has a goal on his record against Premier League bound Sheffield United.
As all good teams do, Sheffield United came back into it. When they looked to have thrown the tie away, influential midfielder Oli Norwood levelled things after seeing his initial effort blocked - but then the Blades shot themselves in the foot as Daniel Jebbison was sent off for kicking out at Tozer.
This was Wrexham’s chance. As they came forward, Ollie Palmer crashed a shot against the bar after a handball shout before Mullin got his moment. He played Sam Dalby in on the right and the forward got the ball back inside the box, before poking the ball through the legs of Adam Davies.
But it wouldn’t prove to be the winner. Egan stole in from a corner to bundle home and salvage a replay from the embers of despair. Once again, when this club had their backs against the wall, they showed great resilience. It’s why they are where they are in the Championship this term.
Despite the draw, this was a day that Wrexham will never forget. With Mickey Thomas watching on, the man who scored that famous goal against Arsenal in 1982, the club almost made more history in front of his very eyes. Perhaps only he knows exactly how Mullin was feeling as his goal hit the net, but unlike Thomas, he didn’t end up on the winning side.
Reynolds in the stands could scarcely believe what he had seen. But despite the deflating equaliser, it isn’t over yet. Once again, Wrexham will travel to a Championship ground as the underdogs. They stunned Coventry City in the Third Round - and who is to say the fairy tale has to end at Bramall Lane?
Wrexham showed their passion, heart, desire and quality on the biggest stage of all. Reynolds and McElhenney are doing everything right in charge of this football club, and now they have earned the chance to beat Sheffield United on their own patch. Bring on the sequel.