Wrexham 3 Sheffield United 3: John Egan saves face but it comes at a cost for Blades
The price of their 3-3 draw was an ankle injury to James McAtee, a suspension for Daniel Jebbison and a replay both promotion-chasing teams could have done without.
No neutral who watched a pulsating game will be complaining about watching 90 – or 120 – more minutes of that, though.
Manager Paul Heckingbottom should have got an inkling of what was coming when Sander Berge was pulled from his squad as he was ready to board the team bus, with Fulham interested in signing the midfielder before Tuesday evening’s transfer deadline.
The face-saving equaliser came in the fifth added minute from John Egan, perhaps fortunate not to be sent off as Jebbison was earlier in the game.
Ahead inside two minutes, the Blades threatened to claim the comfortable win the league ladders pointed to but you knew was never really likely. From the moment Oli McBurnie's glancing header found the net it was a tight contest which Wrexham – cheered on by Bradford City manager Mark Hughes, a native of the town – had the better of.
Minutes before Egan struck it looked as though the competition's top-scorer this season, Paul Mullin, had decided the contest for his side. In hindsight a late miss from him may have cost Wrexham a direct route into round five.
The Blades could have had no complaints had that been the case.
After 66 seconds Wrexham were probably starting to doubt the magic of the FA Cup; 10 minutes in, they certainly will were.
McBurnie ran across the far post and glanced a header into the net from Tommy Doyle's corner on his first start since hernia surgery.
But Phil Parkinson's team refused to take the hint.
This despite Jordan Tunnicliffe going off injured defending the corner and Aaron Hayden being forced to hobble off in the 10th minute.
"A lesser group of players could have lost four or 5-0,” said Parkinson.
Mullin was a constant threat for Wrexham, who looked dangerous whenever they counter-attacked, or when Ben Tozer launched a long throw-in.
The hosts had penalty appeals turned down in the 12th minute as Mullin bore down on the demolished Kop end and tried to lift the ball past Adam Davies. The appeals looked better in real time but Dean Whitestone had to call it in one and waved play on.
Davies failed to hold a spinning Tozer throw a minute later but substitute Max Cleworth missed.
Midway through the first half, the Blades finally started to show Championship touches, but only a few.
Chris Basham played a great ball to Doyle, who threaded in Jebbison but former Blade Mark Howard was quick off his line to save.
The striker then had another shot saved after getting the ball back from a cute touch to McBurnie, who took his time before returning it.
When a lovely McBurnie touch freed Jebbison, Howard was again equal to it. He also saved a dipping Doyle shot.
It was a flurry, not a turning point.
Mullin's shot from distance dipped just a bit too late and his next was straight at Davies.
The Blades were never more vulnerable that at their own corners.
When Basham's header from one was saved, Wrexham pounced and in no time the hosts were appealing in vain again for another penalty after Davies caught Mullin, who had gone around Jayden Bogle.
John Egan fouled the centre-forward just outside the area in the seventh added minute but Mullin hammered the free-kick into the wall.
The centre-back was booked but could have been deemed the last man. It was even more significant than it looked at the time.
Wrexham got their equaliser five minutes into a second half McAtee did not return for, Davies unable to hold a long-range effort before the second of two blocked shots was scrambled out of play.
Tozer again launched a throw and James Jones converted the flick-on.
When they took the lead from another set-piece, Tom O'Connor reacting first at a 61st-minute corner the roar from the 9,909 crowd was huge but minutes later it was replaced by an "oh!" of deflation as Oliver Norwood found the net after he and Jebbison had shots blocked.
But the real low point for the Blades was around the corner.
Tozer blocked off Jebbison as the forward tried to counter-attack. Unbeknownst to the referee and most in the ground, Jebbison lashed out but it was in full view of fourth official Scott Oldham and with no cameras to review the incident, he called Whitestone over.
Tozer was yellow-carded and Jebbison was shown a red.
A tremendous Ollie Palmer shot bounced off the crossbar, the post and out.
After Mullen found the net in the 86th minute, Wrexham capitalising when substitute Iliamn Ndiaye gave the ball away, his shot blazed off target looked irrelevent but Egan would make it anything but.
Wrexham: Howard; Hayden (Jones 10), Tozer, Tunnicliffe (Cleworth 4); Forde, Lee, Young, O'Connor, McFadzean (Darby 71); Mullin, Palmer. Unused substitutes: Lainton, Hall-Johnson, McAlinden, Cannon, Lennon, Bickerstaff.
Sheffield United: Davies; Ahmedhodzic (Coulibaly 87), Egan, Basham; Bogle, Doyle, Norwood, McAtee (Lowe 46), Osborn (Ndiaye 58); Jebbison, McBurnie (Sharp 58). Unused substitutes: Foderingham, Robinson, Marsh.
Referee: D Whitestone (Northampton).