David McGoldrick was the United hero, as they deservedly won a five-goal thriller at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Goals from Billy Sharp and Chris Basham had put the Blades in command, before two goals in as many minutes saw Preston level, only for McGoldrick to win it for the hosts in front of the Kop.
Boss Wilder once again rang the changes for the clash against North End, with Sharp, Freeman, Stevens and McGoldrick all returning to the starting XI.
United enjoyed the better of the first 10 minutes, enjoying most of the ball and territory, but despite advancing into promising wide positions, chances weren't forthcoming. Preston briefly threatened with a couple of long-range shot, but Henderson wasn't troubled.
On 25 minutes, United looked to have fashioned an opening, with Fleck playing in Basham on the left following a corner, but McGoldrick's goal bound header was cleared by Huntington. McGoldrick continued to look dangerous in and around the box, heading wide from Freeman's cross.
But 11 minutes later, United were in front and McGoldrick was involved again. He got a run on Davies from Freeman's ball and after Maxwell had saved the ball was tucked into the empty net by SHARP, who couldn't miss.
With half-time approaching, the Blades and that man McGoldrick looked to add a second, but his header was narrowly off target from Stevens inviting centre. At the other end, a number of Blades bodies were put on the line to deny Fisher from Huntington's lay-off.
The first action of note in the second-half saw the Blades double the lead in the 52nd minute. McGoldrick won a free-kick down the right channel and from Norwood's pinpoint centre, BASHAM got a run on his marker and glanced a header home past the despairing dive of Maxwell.
In the Blades attack, it could have been three. Duffy broke at pace and played in McGoldrick, who unfortunately dragged his shot wide from a promising position. The visitors looked for a response from a corner, but Henderson was equal to Clarke's header before the Blades hacked the ball clear.
Sharp received a warm hand as he was replaced by Johnson with 16 minutes remaining. But it was Preston who gave themselves a lifeline in the 80th minute. Moult broke free and played in Fisher and from his low centre, ROBINSON prodded home. And the visitors levelled in their next attack, with JOHNSON firing home with the aid of a deflection from Hughes's left-wing cross.
The game swing back in United's favour though with just three minutes left on the clock, Johnson and Stevens combined on the left, before the latter squared for MCGOLDRICK to get a goal his efforts deserved.
Six minutes of added time were signalled and Stearman replaced McGoldrick before the began. United safely saw them out with the game ending with Henderson showing a safe pair of hands before punching the air with delight.
Blades: Henderson, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Sharp (Johnson 74), Egan, Norwood, McGoldrick (Stearman 90), Freeman, Duffy (Clarke 85).
Unused: Lundstram, Woodburn, Moore, Washington.
Preston: Maxwell, Fisher, Clarke, Davies, Robinson, Browne, Gallagher (Johnson 62), Hughes, Ledson (Harrop 90), Huntington, Barkhuizen (Moult 71).
Unused: Rudd, Earl, Burke, Barker.