Key events

23 min: The Potteries’ most famous Chileans kept their cool but this game threatens to boil over. Blades fans not happy with VAR. That goal would not have stood in earlier rounds without VAR.

Goal! Sheffield United 0-1 Blackburn (Brereton-Diaz 22)

Side-footed, right-footed, the Chile international ends up past Foderingham, who gets a touch but can’t keep it out. Against the run of play, but now we have a cup tie on our hands.

Penalty to Blackburn!

19 min: Chance for Blackburn…Gallagher’s shot is blocked by Robinson and Foderingham makes a save. Was it Robinson’s hand? Perhaps. The referee is called to the VAR set and it is awarded a penalty to Blackburn. It’s a yellow card for Robinson, when it might have been a red. He is lucky in one sense, unlucky in another.

16 min: The Leafs are piling on it, and must have a goal soon. They have dominated. Ahmedhodzic heads the ball behind from a corner in his latest strike.

14 min: Beautiful play from Blades, with delicacy from Ndiaye, then Berge slips in McAtee. This is a very skilled team, not at all like the Chris Wilder team of recent years.

13 min: Blackburn have been pegged back and have to look to the break for opportunities.

12 min: Tommy Doyle, football royalty himself, of impeccable pedigree, has a free-kick cleared by Rovers.

10 minutes: And it seems Aynsley Pears is indeed named after Middlesbrough stalwart Steve Pears, once a Manchester United reserve. Was he named after Aynsley Dunbar?

8 min: Good defending from Carter to stop McBurnie sending Ndiaye off, and then the Blades go away again. McAtee escapes and it’s up to him and Pears in the Rovers goal. Pears saves well. Then Doyle rushes on from midfield and blames a shot on goal. Great save from Pears again. Any relation to Steve Pears?

6 min: To use the words of the late John Motson, it’s a keenly competitive cup tie. Need a goal, actually. And there’s something of an old-school vibe here, with neither manager resting many players.

5 minutes: The Blades finally get time on the ball, and McAtee and McBurnie try to send Ndiaye away. This time Rovers get it done.

3 min: Sheffield United looking a little overwhelmed, with keeper Wes Foderingham charging out and almost making a mess of a clearance. Rovers look keen.

1 minute: Away we go. And here comes John Denver, Annie’s Song and fat chipbutties. Maybe the only football song to mention the Woodbines…an early chance for Brereton Diaz, and he takes too much time on it and gets his shot blocked.

The teams are out at Bramall Lane where there is quite the atmosphere, bubbling for a Sunday, dinner kickoff. That’s what Cup of Dreams is all about.

Paul Heckingbottom also spoke to the BBC.

It’s not many times you get the opportunity to go to Wembley as a player or as a fan. It would be a reward for the fans, for their support. We know what’s at stake. The FA Cup is huge and this season seems to have been good and we’ve been involved in a couple of different occasions and stories so it would be nice to have another one. They will approach the game the same way as us, what do they have to lose?

Some thoughts before the match from Jon-Dahl TomassonThe Blackburn boss, speaking to the BBC.

It is an opportunity for every player to be part of the club’s new history. It’s something we have to chase. It will only be one team that wins the FA Cup in the end but we can dream of Wembley. Just saying the word Wembley says it all about the passion and this amazing competition. I hope to go there.

The FA Cup is the biggest cup in the world in my opinion. We haven’t been this far for a while so it’s been a great race and we’re enjoying it. We beat them two weeks ago but we know we can lose this game because they are a team that needs promotion when you look at their budget and their Premier League players.

Tomasson, who became an elite player, was young when Newcastle reached in 1998 The FA Cup final but did not play in support of Alan Shearer. That honor went to Temur Ketsbaia. And the sub striker, in days of five subs? Andreas Andersson.

In the fifth round, both teams beat Premier League opposition.

Philip Rebbeck gets in touch: “It might be worth noting that these two grand old clubs have won The FA Cup ten times between them. Admittedly, the last came in 1925 and 1928 respectively, but still impressive.”

Daniel Gallan wrote a short preview for this match.

It has been eight years since a team outside the Premier League reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup (Reading, 2015). That drought will end this Sunday as one of Sheffield United or Blackburn progress to the last four. This is the most open and inclusive edition of the tournament in a long time – half of the final eight teams play outside the top flight. Sheffield United were third semi-finalists in 2014, and this is their third quarter-final appearance in four seasons. Blackburn have a poor record at Bramall Lane, having lost there in all four of their previous visits – and Rovers’ last win here came thanks to an Alan Shearer double in 1994. A win this weekend and a trip to Wembley would provide a chance in the arm for both teams as they both strive for promotion.

My colleague and friend Will Unwin traveled up the M65 into deepest Lancashire, to bring down the Rovers.

Last time Blackburn won one The FA Cup the quarter-final, in 2007, was Hayden Carter at Manchester City – the club they beat that day – albeit in the under-sevens. The defender was released at 13 and signed by Blackburn, where he has been joined by a number of team-mates who went through similar rejections at Premier League clubs. They hope the next leg of their journey will be a semi-final at Wembley, the reward if they win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Rover’s facilities and set-up attract young people from further afield. Lewis Travis arrived after time with Liverpool in his mid-teens, Joe Rankin-Costello from Manchester United and Tyrhys Dolan played for Manchester City, Preston and Burnley before joining in his late teens.

Great details on these Champo clubs team news tweets. Premier League teams take note, as requested by the MBM community.

The law

A change from mid-week. 👊🏆

Oli McBurnie comes in from the start. This is how United line up @EmiratesFACup Quarter finals!

!! 🔴

— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 19, 2023

Sheffield United: Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Doyle, Berge, McAtee, Lowe; Ndiaye, McBurnie. Subs: Davies, Bogle, Basham, Arblaster, Norwood, Coulibaly, Fleck, Jebbison, Sharp

Blackburn Rovers: Pear, Rankin-Costello, Carter, Hyam, Pickering, Travis, Morton, Hedges, Szmodics, Brereton, Gallagher. Subs: Kaminski, Brittain, S. Wharton, Phillips, Edun, Garrett, A. Wharton, Dolan, Leonard.


A big day for the Championship, on terrestrial television, rather than those of us devoted to the dulcet tones of Don Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe, David Prutton and Michelle Owens in the studio, with Lee Hendrie’s costumes an added bonus. Both teams have much bigger fish to fry in the EFL, with the Blades in second place but with Middlesbrough’s hot breath down their necks. Rovers, meanwhile, were grateful to Neil Warnock’s Huddersfield yesterday and kept their toe in fifth place, and a play-off chance.

Now for the distraction of The FA Cup with the Blades having a more storied history than Rovers, despite Blackburn’s golden era of the 1990s. United reached the semi-finals in 2013-14, losing to Hull, 2002-3, losing to Arsenal and 1992-3, losing to Sheffield Wednesday with Alan Cork’s beard in front. Rovers last reached the semis in 2004-5, when they lost to Arsenal under Mark Hughes as manager. The last time to that was 1960, Brian Douglas and all that, when they lost the final to Wolves.

Putting all that history aside, both managers, Paul Heckingbottom and Jon-Dahl Tomasson, are likely to reshuffle their pack. The Blades did just that against Tottenham in the last round and it really stuck with Antonio Conte, who mentioned it as part of his rant against Southampton yesterday.

Either way, a visit to Wembley for two of English football’s oldest clubs is at stake.

Kick-off at 12.00pm UK time. Follow me.