SHEFFIELD UNITED have been handed a dream FA Cup date at 11-time winners Manchester United in the pick of the ties involving Yorkshire sides in the third-round draw.
For the second season running, a Steel City side will make a trip to Manchester with, in this case, the Blades visiting Old Trafford for the first time since April 2007.
Their city rivals Sheffield Wednesday travelled to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City just under 12 months ago in the same round.
An all-Yorkshire third-round affair will also be staged for the third season running and it promises to be a juicy one with Steve Evans and Neil Redfearn doing battle against their former clubs at Elland Road with Leeds United welcoming Rotherham United for the second time in seven weeks.
It represents only Leeds’s second home third-round assignment in 12 seasons, and anticipation for the tie with the Millers will be heightened by events in the Championship game between the rivals 17 days ago.
The visitors secured the points with a 1-0 victory in a game which saw Millers striker Leon Best and Whites defender Gaetano Berardi both receive their marching orders following an ugly second-half clash.
Former Leeds head coach Redfearn, on his first return to Elland Road since leaving in the summer, was also left unhappy by what he claimed to be a refusal by the home club to provide him with a car park pass, with the Millers’ chief labelling owner Massimo Cellino as “childish”.
Leeds went on to refute Redfearn’s claim, and Evans is keen for January’s encounter to be all about football and not to become a sideshow as he and his Millers counterpart face their former employers for the second time in less than two months.
He said: “The drama last time was allowed to get out of control.
“Neil has been back to his old club, I’ve been up against my old club, a lot has been said. Maybe this time, we can let the football speak.”
The other stand-out tie sees Doncaster Rovers play host to top-flight Stoke City in an encounter which pits Rovers chief Darren Ferguson against his former Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes.
There were home draws for Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough in all-Championship ties against Fulham, Reading and Burnley respectively.
But there was no plum tie for last season’s quarter-finalists Bradford City, who have been handed a trip across the Pennines to League One rivals Bury where Bantams’ manager Phil Parkinson first made his name as a player.
The prize tie was undeniably bestowed upon the Blades, with the trip to face the 20-times League champions representing the perfect pick-me-up after a fairly flat first half of the season.
Back in 2013-14, a trip to another fabled cup venue in Villa Park helped provide a catalyst to a remarkable transformation in fortunes for the Blades, who embarked on a memorable run to the semi-finals of the cup.
Blades have lost their last six matches to the Red Devils, but the pair have never met in the FA Cup at Old Trafford. You have to go back to Boxing Day 1973 for the Blades’ last win there – a 2-1 success courtesy of goals from club legends Tony Currie and Alan Woodward.
The Blades’ city rivals Wednesday will face Fulham for the second time in a week, with Carlos Carvalhal’s side starting 2015 with a Championship trip to Craven Cottage on January 2.
Huddersfield head coach David Wagner’s first taste of the FA Cup will come at home to Reading, a repeat of last season at the same stage.
Burnley will visit Middlesbrough for the second time inless than a month as they head to Teesside in the league on December 15.
Hull knocked out Brighton en route to the final in 2013-14.
Brighton will also head to the KC Stadium in the league on January 30.