Sheffield United v Wrexham
Nine days on, they meet to do it again. The tie between National League Wrexham and Championship Sheffield United at the Racecourse Ground produced one of the games of the season. Sheffield United were ahead within two minutes, 2-1 down after an hour, down to 10-men after pulling back level, and required a 95th minute equaliser from John Egan to deny Wrexham a famous upset.
The six-goal thriller was a fine example of the first class attacks on display, and the varied methods of scoring their goals. Saturday’s goalless draw at Rotherham United was only the fifth league game that the Blades have failed to score in this season. A long run of nine unbeaten in the Championship has propelled Paul Heckingbottom’s side into a comfortable-looking second position, and that run extends to 11 matches when all competitions are included. Young striker Daniel Jebbison was sent off in the original tie and will miss this replay, but Sheffield United can still call upon Oli McBurnie, Iliman Ndiaye or Billy Sharp to lead the line. Midfielder Oliver Norwood and defender John Egan both scored at the Racecourse Ground, and could be in line to feature again at Bramall Lane, especially if Sheffield United intend to comfortably avoid an upset.
They may be a fifth tier side, but there is no doubt that Wrexham possess firepower beyond non-league level. Star striker Paul Mullin added to his season in the original tie, a 28th goal in all competitions for the 28-year-old. Strike partner Ollie Palmer, a more physical outlet, scored in the weekend’s victory at Altrincham to bring his seasonal tally to 15. The pair benefit from the plethora of attacking methods that Wrexham possess. A big threat in open play, especially with the creativity of Elliott Lee behind them, Wrexham also possess a big set piece threat. The long, flat throw of centre-back Ben Tozer is regularly deployed, with the ball flying into the box for both the front two and fellow centre-backs to attack. Wrexham did lose both Aaron Hayden and Jordan Tunnicliffe to first half injuries in the original tie, but have strengthened since. The high-calibre signing of Charlton Athletic’s Eoghan O’Connell had an instant impact last Saturday, grabbing the late winner at Altrincham. Having been injured for Charlton’s FA Cup matches, he is eligible to play for Wrexham in the cup on Tuesday night.
Neutrals thoroughly enjoyed the 3-3 between these two sides back on the 29th of January, and will be hoping that the TV cameras can catch something similar at Bramall Lane. Premier League chasers Sheffield United are averaging 1.7 goals scored a game in the Championship, and an average of 2.1 scored in matches at Bramall Lane. Football League chasers Wrexham are averaging 2.6 goals scored a game in the National League, and an average of 1.75 goals in away games. Expectations will be high on another high-scoring affair this midweek, and rightly so.
Grimsby Town v Luton Town
League Two side Grimsby Town take on Championship promotion hopefuls Luton Town in the FA Cup this week.
The Mariners earned themselves a replay against the second tier outfit after drawing 2-2 away at Kenilworth Road courtesy of goals by midfielders Gavan Holohan and Harry Clifton. They then backed up that result with a 3-0 win away at Crewe Alexandra in the league over the weekend with attackers John McAtee, George Lloyd and Tom Dickson-Peters all finding the net. Speaking after that one, boss Paul Hurst said it was a ‘very nice’ afternoon for his side but he will be under no illusion how different of a game their clash against in-form Luton will be on Tuesday night. Grimsby have no fresh injury concerns which is a good and their new signings Lloyd and Dickson-Peters scored on their debuts, whilst defender Josh Emmanuel, who joined from Hull City, also impressed in his first start at the back. Grimsby are 16th in the division and although they won last time out, they haven’t actually been in the best of form of late and have been on the end of a couple of heavy defeats. They were beaten 4-1 at home by Salford City at the end of December and were thrashed 5-0 by Swindon Town away on 14th January so obviously have their defensive problems. Hurst’s side will be hoping to secure themselves a cup upset but that seems pretty far-fetched.
Luton are 4th in the second tier and are dreaming of promotion to the Premier League. Rob Edwards’ side are playing well at the moment and have won their last three league outings on the spin against Wigan Athletic, Cardiff City and Stoke City without conceding a goal. They beat the latter 1-0 on Saturday thanks to midfielder Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu’s first-half goal and their boss was delighted with the performance and said his players are playing at a ‘very, very good’ level right now and he will be hoping to keep their momentum going, even if it is a cup game against a team two leagues below. On the injury front, full-back Dan Potts is a doubt as he battles back from a knee problem but they have plenty of cover in his position and alternative options like Alfie Doughty and Amari’i Bell. Luton swooped to land Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba on deadline day and he was substituted on for his debut against Stoke so could be a potential starter against Grimsby in a game that gives Edwards the chance to make some changes and freshen things up. Even if he does, the team he picks should be too strong for League Two opposition.
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