Ryan Flynn, who was making his first appearance of the season, netted the opener for the Blades, but Scott Fenwick levelled the scores for the home side, and forced the game into penalties. George Long was the hero of the two keepers, saving two, and was enough to secure a place in round two.
Nigel Adkins made wholesale changes to his side, with only Jay McEverley and Chris Basham retaining their place from the side which won at Swindon the in the previous fixture. He also handed Flynn and Terry Kennedy a starting role, there first appearances of the season, after recovering from injury.
Fashioning the green away strip again, it was the visitors who made the better start to the game, Woolford saw his shot turned round the post early doors, after neat play from Basham and Flynn had set the former Millwall forward up.
United didn't have to wait long until the deadlock was broken, 7 minutes to be exact. NcNulty found Woolford, his initial shot was saved by home keeper Bartlett, but FLYNN was able to collect the loose ball, he brought it back inside the box before slotting home.
Barlett was being tested to the limit, and on 13 minutes he made a third save of the night, but soon after, the chances fell afloat but, at the other end, Long was barely troubled. The home faithful had to wait until 40 minutes had passed until they saw their first effort on goal, but Carroll headed wide after Bingham crossed. Before the referee blew up for half-time Duckworth curled a left foot shot wide of the far post.
Hartlepool continued in the same manner in which they had ended prior to the break, and for all their efforts where duly rewarded. United were robbed of possession in midfield and, after Bingham charged forward, he found FENWICK, who was able to finish past Long.
The Blades hit back, but without prevail, Woolford side footed wide after Basham charged forward. On the hour mark McNulty was unable to get his shot away, after being crowded out by Duckworth.
With 20 minutes remaining Carroll fired a 25 yard effort wide, and, as the Blades attacked, McGahey's cross evaded the defence but Woolford saw his shot saved. As a tense penalty shoot-out loomed, Adkins introduced Sharp for Kennedy, whilst the hosts made a change of their own. But neither side could forge a winner.
Under competition rules, with the scores locked level, the game went straight to penalties. The home side won the toss and opted to kick first, Bingham, Higdon, Oates and Sharp all scored to make it 2-2 on spot kicks. Long was in form, he kept out Harrison's and goal-scorer Fenwick's efforts, whilst McNulty was successful with his. Woolford saw his penalty saved and to add extra tension, Featherstone netted to level the scores. However, the Blades hand the upper hand, and McEverley was spot on to send the Blades through.
The shoot-ou: Bingham (scored) 1-0, Higdon (scored) 1-1, Oates (scored) 2-1, Sharp (scored) 2-2, Harrison (saved) 2-2, McNulty (scored) 2-3, Fenwick (saved) 2-3, Woolford (saved) 2-3, Featherstone (scored) 3-3, McEverley (scored) 3-4.
Hartlepool United: Bartlett, Carroll, Worley, Harrison, Bingham, Oates, Featherstone, Fenwick, Hawkins (Nelson-Addy 90), Jones, Duckworth (Nearney 65). Unused: Oyenuga, Smith, Denton.
Sheffield United: Long, Basham, Flynn (Campbell-Ryce 72), McNulty, Woolford, McEveley, Alcock, Higdon, Kennedy (Sharp 85), K Wallace, McGahey. Unused: Howard, Collins, Sammon.