Wrexham‘s fairytale FA Cup run was finally ended by Sheffield United, thanks to two stoppage-time goals that gave the Championship side a 3-1 victory over their non-league opponents in Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth-round replay at Bramall Lane.
After a thrilling 3-3 draw in the first match in Wrexham, the National League side again pushed a team ranked 72 places above them all the way in a dramatic replay that could have gone either way.
Paul Mullin canceled out Anel Ahmedhodzic’s opener for Sheffield United in the second half and had a chance to put Wrexham ahead with a second penalty but saw his effort saved by Adam Davies.
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Then with the game heading to extra-time, Billy Sharp and Sander Berge scored in the fourth and sixth minutes of stoppage time, respectively, to end the dreams of Wrexham and their celebrity owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
“So proud of these boys,” Reynolds, a Canadian-born actor posted to his 21.1 million followers on Twitter. “And the 4000 plus away supporters who gave it all.”
McElhenney, an American actor and director also tweeted, writing: “I could not be more proud of those men than I am right now. They gave it absolutely everything.”
While Wrexham are left to focus on their bid to return to the Football League, Sheffield United face a fifth-round matchup at home to Premier League giants Tottenham.
It was another thrill-a-minute match between the teams, giving Reynolds and McElhenney plenty more material for their behind-the-scenes TV series “Welcome To Wrexham.”
As expected after taking the tie back home, Sheffield United largely controlled proceedings from the off. Robert Lainton in the Wrexham goal was equal to everything the hosts threw at him in the opening half, however.
After more comfortable saves from Sharp and John Egan, Lainton saved spectacularly from point-blank range to keep out a powerful effort from Ahmedhodzic. An equally good chance fell Sheffield United’s way minutes earlier, but on a clear breakaway James McAtee side-footed wide of the post.
Wrexham managed to keep the scores level going into half-time but within five minutes of the second half their resistance was broken. Ben Osborn played a neat reverse pass to catch out the Wrexham defence and find the run of Ahmedhodzic, who hammered s shot high past Lainton at his near post.
That looked like it might be that for Wrexham, especially when Sharp was found by McAtee right in front of goal soon after only for Lainton to make another superb save.
But within minutes Wrexham were sensationally level once more. Ahmedhodzic pulled back Mullin as he ran onto a through pass into the box and while the contact clearly started outside the penalty box, the referee ruled that it continued inside and pointed to the spot.
Mullin, Wrexham’s main attacking outlet throughout, made no mistake in firing the penalty down the middle for his eighth FA Cup goal of the season, the most for any player since 2012013.
Remarkably, with 19 minutes of the 90 remaining Mullin and Wrexham were given another penalty and a chance to move within touching distance of the fifth round.
There could be no doubt about the award of this spot kick after substitute Oliver Norwood clumsily slid in from behind on Mullin. The Wrexham forward again picked himself up to take the kick but this time Davies guessed right and parried the ball to safety.
It proved to be a crucial miss as the side second in the Championship struck twice in added time, the first off a Wrexham defensive error to clinch their progress after a marathon battle.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.