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Wrexham’s FA Cup journey ends with a defensive blunder of epic proportions in 94th minute

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham FC saw the clock strike midnight on their Cinderella-run in the FA Cup on Tuesday. Sheffield United defeated the fifth-tier lovable Welsh side 3-1 in the 4th Round Replays.

On Jan. 29 these two sides — who sit three leagues apart in the English football pyramid — played to a thrilling 3-3 draw that saw a 95th minute equalizer from Sheffield United to force the replay.

Wrexham again conceded in stoppage time on Tuesday. A terrible defensive error from Max Cleworth gave Sheffield’s Billy Sharp the look on goal to score and make it 2-1 for the hosts.

The 20-year-old center back for Wrexham will be losing sleep over this one.

Max Cleworth mistake vs. Sheffield in FA Cup

That's probably the last time Cleworth will try to control a ball with his knee.

Sheffield’s Sander Berge put the nail in the Wrexham coffin in the 96th minute to make it 3-1.

Despite the scoreline, Wrexham put in an admirable effort and could have come away with the victory.

With Wrexham’s main goal this season being promotion to League Two, manager Phil Parkinson deployed a below full-strength starting XI in the FA Cup replay. There were seven changes to the starting XI that earned the 3-3 draw vs. Sheffield.

Despite not having the strongest squad playing, Wrexham still gave the club sitting second in the EFL Championship a run for their money.

The first half was far tamer than the last meeting between the two clubs. Sheffield’s James McAtee had the best chance of the half but made a mess of what should’ve been a simple goal.

The hosts struck first five minutes into the second half to finally get the ball past Wrexham goalkeeper Rob Lainton who had a great game.

The lead would only last a matter of minutes as Wrexham’s star forward Paul Mullin would equalize from the spot after being dragged down in the box. Mullin smashed home the penalty in front of the thousands of traveling Wrexham supporters.

Mullin couldn’t make lightning strike twice, however. In the 71st minute Wrexham were rewarded a second penalty after a foolish tackle in the box from Sheffield’s Oliver Norwood. With the chance to make it 2-1 for Wrexham, Mullin would see his second penalty of the night saved.

Sheffield advance and will get to host Tottenham on March 1.

It was a great cup run from the non-league minnows of Wrexham. While the run has been entertaining, promotion is more important for Wrexham who currently play in the fifth-tier National League. Only two teams are promoted from the National League to the professional League Two.

The team that finishes first in the National League is automatically promoted while those who finish 2-7 do a playoff for the remaining spot.

It’s a two-horse race for the automatic spot between Wrexham and Notts County. Wrexham is only three points behind and has two games in hand. 

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