FA Cup dream over for Wrexham and its Hollywood owners
Wrexham players look dejected after Sheffield's Billy Sharp scored his side's second goalduring the FA Cup 4th round soccer match between Sheffield United and Wrexham at the Bramall Lane stadium in Sheffield, England, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Steve Douglas, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, February 7, 2023 5:15PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 7, 2023 5:56PM EST
For Wrexham’s Hollywood owners, the sequel proved to be a heartbreaker.
The Welsh soccer club owned by celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney lost its FA Cup replay with Sheffield United 3-1 on Tuesday, conceding two goals deep into stoppage time.
A win for Wrexham, the lowest-ranked team remaining in the famous old competition, would have set up a match in the fifth round — or the last 16 — with Tottenham and its star striker, Harry Kane.
Instead, it was despair for the team from the fifth tier of English soccer which has hit the headlines over the last two years after it was bought by Reynolds and McElhenney for $2.5 million in November 2020 on the recommendation of one of their writers.
Sheffield United forced a replay by scoring an equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time in the first game between the teams, which ended 3-3 at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. Reynolds attended that game but wasn’t at the replay at Bramall Lane, where Billy Sharp and Sander Berge scored the late goals.
“So proud of these boys,” Reynolds, a Canadian-born actor best known for starring in the “Deadpool” movies, posted to his 21.1 million followers on Twitter. “And the 4000 plus away supporters who gave it all.”
McElhenney, an American actor and director who was the creator of TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” also tweeted, writing: “I could not be more proud of those men than I am right now. They gave it absolutely everything.”
It was another thrill-a-minute match between the teams, giving Reynolds and McElhenney plenty more material for their behind-the-scenes TV series “Welcome To Wrexham."
Wrexham has a history of producing shocks in the FA Cup, having beaten then-English champion Arsenal in the third round in 1992 when playing in the fourth tier and reached the quarterfinals in the 1996-97 season when it was in the third tier.
The Welsh club had already eliminated second-tier Coventry this season and could easily have done the same to Sheffield United, another Championship team, with Paul Mullin having a penalty saved in the 72nd minute when the score was 1-1.
Mullin had converted a spot kick in the 59th to equalize for Wrexham, canceling out Anel Ahmedhodzic's opener nine minutes earlier.
Sharp's goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time came from a defensive mistake and proved to be crucial.
Sharp said after the game he had been annoyed by the conduct of Wrexham, suggesting the team 72 places lower in the English soccer pyramid had already been looking forward to playing Tottenham in the next round.
“I am glad we’ve beaten them," Sharp said. “The way they’ve been as a club before the game, eyeing up Spurs ... They had not even beaten us. They thought we would just roll over."
The big surprise of the fourth-round replays came when fourth-tier Grimsby won 3-0 at home over Luton, which is in fourth place in the Championship. Grimsby next plays at Premier League team Southampton.
Second-tier leader Burnley, managed by former Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, and third-tier Fleetwood also won their replays and will meet for a place in the quarterfinals.
The other fourth-round replay takes place on Wednesday, when second-tier Sunderland hosts Fulham of the Premier League. The winner will play Leeds.
The fifth round takes place at the end of the month.