Sheffield United v Wrexham
Tuesday night sees Sheffield United and Wrexham go toe-to-toe at Bramall Lane in an FA Cup Fourth Round replay that earns the winner a mouth-watering home tie with Premier League Tottenham Hotspur.
The Racecourse Ground played host to the kind of FA Cup tie synonymous with the competition, a 3-3 draw in which the non-league outfit were behind and lost two of their centre-halves to injury before mounting a comeback, leading the game until the Blades, reduced to ten men, scored in the final minute of injury time to break hearts.
Both clubs are having extraordinary campaigns and come into this game in positive spirits as a result. Tuesday’s hosts are sitting ten points clear of third place Middlesbrough in their bid to return to the top flight while the visitors have won 21 of their 28 league matches this season as they bid for a long-awaited return to the English Football League.
Since taking over as manager, Phil Parkinson has managed 90 Wrexham matches. They have lost by more than one goal on just five occasions. And never in a cup match.
They are taking on a Sheffield United side that will have an eye on upcoming league matches – they take on play-off chasing Swansea City and Millwall either side of a huge clash with third-place Middlesbrough, not to mention Watford the week after. A tough run as they bid to hold onto their healthy lead in second place. They are likely to make changes for this one in a bid to keep key players fresh.
And though Wrexham will be without three centre-backs, they will replace them with Max Cleworth, a graduate that spent much of 2022 in their first XI, and James Jones, a midfielder signed from League One Lincoln City. Phil Parkinson is not short of quality replacements thanks to the sizeable budget given to him by their much-loved owners.
Tom O’Connor was a big money signing last January from League One Burton Albion. After a slow start, he has made himself a regular fixture in the starting XI, offering a left-foot, defensive solidity and balance to a midfield that has lost Jordan Davies and gained Elliott Lee.
The Irishman has started 11 league matches this season and been booked on four occasions. Furthermore, all four of those bookings have come in his seven starts away from home. To add to the likelihood of him being booked, he will most likely be playing on the left-side of the back three with Eoghan O’Connell (unregistered), Aaron Hayden and Jordan Tunnicliffe (both injured) unavailable.
O’Connor is also a goal threat. He has three goals in the FA Cup to date, including goals against Coventry City and Sheffield United, and four in the league, including three in the last two months. He is an able free-kick taker within 25 yards of goal and because of his role at centre-back, he will also be tasked with attacking the ball from set-pieces.
Paul Mullin is a goal machine.
The Wrexham striker was named League Two Player of the Year after firing Cambridge United to an unlikely promotion and has continued that form since the move to Wales, scoring 60 goals in his year and a half with the Red Dragons.
One of the reasons Mullin scores so many goals is because he doesn’t hesitate to have a pop at goal when the opportunity presents itself. Mullin is an old-fashioned forward, happy to run the channels and take a punt from anywhere within 30 yards of goals once he has found half a yard, regardless of the angle or whether the ball is on his right or left foot.
Wrexham had eight shots on target against Sheffield United in the reverse fixture and Mullin was responsible for half of those. He has scored eight goals in five FA Cup starts to date and at least once in each of those starts. He’s also on penalty duty.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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