Ben Tozer warns Sheffield United over ‘long throw weapon’
Ben Tozer hopes his long throw can again make an impact in the FA Cup when Wrexham host Sheffield United on Sunday – a tie the defender thought was “winnable” the moment it emerged from the draw.
The fourth-round clash at the Racecourse Ground will see the National League leaders aiming to cause another upset against Championship opposition, after triumphing 4-3 at Coventry in round three.
Two years ago, Tozer was part of the Cheltenham side that went close to pulling off a fourth-round giant-killing at home against Manchester City, taking the lead when his long-throw led to a finish by Alfie May before three late goals steered the visitors to a 3-1 win.
The 32-year-old, who moved on to Wrexham in the summer of 2021, said of his throw: “I think it’s always a weapon and something teams are fearful of.
“Last time I was in a big FA Cup game we scored from it and nearly won, so it’s one of those things where you have to utilise it, and hopefully I get to use it.”
Acknowledging the Blades have a long-throw specialist of their own in Jack Robinson, Tozer joked that it “could be a bit of a throw-off”, and added: “I could honestly tell you probably within about two yards I know where I can throw it.
“It’s also trying to be telepathic, to tell them (team-mates) where I want them to be. Sometimes you’ll have signals. Sometimes you just want to throw it on the keeper and cause a bit of mayhem. It’s just mixing it up.”
As well as beating Coventry, Phil Parkinson’s team in the league have won each of their last six games and not lost since October.
Tozer said: “I think when the draw was made, in my head, it was seen as a winnable tie, and especially being at home, the pitch, the atmosphere, it kind of levels out the chances of winning.
“I know they’re going really well themselves (Paul Heckingbottom’s Sheffield United are second in the Championship and have won seven of their last eight league matches), they’ve got experience, know-how. But I think genuinely we’ve got a real belief we can cause an upset.
“The FA Cup throws up mad things and games, and it just takes a throw-in, a red card, a bizarre goal. The FA Cup’s got that romance, and (it’s) just kind of go with it and see where it takes us.”
For Wrexham goalkeeper Mark Howard, it will be a meeting with his former club, having had four-and-a-half years with Sheffield United that included reaching the 2013-14 FA Cup semi-finals as a League One side.
Howard said: “The pressure will be more on them. It’s a cup game, anything can happen.
“I’ve been at Sheffield United playing Premier League clubs, we were never expected to beat them, and we beat (two) to get to the semi-finals. You quite enjoy being the underdog.”
There has been considerable attention on Wrexham following their 2020 takeover by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, and being the subject of the ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary.
Howard, who joined last summer after leaving Carlisle, said: “I think the club is really pushing itself to be as good as it can be in all departments. The project that’s going on here is something very exciting.
“The owners are very personable, down to every player that they’ll text or speak to, which is amazing for us. But for the community it must be incredible, to see what they are doing to the local area, to the community, the donations they make to charities.
“I think that’s why Wrexham is becoming almost the world’s football club – we are around the world becoming more documented for how good the owners have been, the documentary, and how we’re doing on the pitch now also is a big part of that.
“You want to be part of this project. I think all footballers have a slight interest in the club. I speak to a lot of ex-players, players, and they’re always asking ‘what’s it actually like?’ That just tells you that everybody is slightly interested.”