SHEFFIELD United manager Micky Adams insisted his team can use Saturday’s courageous FA Cup performance against Aston Villa as a springboard towards Championship survival.
Trailing 2-0 at the break, United mounted a spirited second half fight-back which, by Gerard Houllier’s own admission, had the visitors reeling on the ropes until Stiliyan Petrov’s late strike restored Villa’s two goal advantage following Jamie Ward’s penalty.
Houllier, Adams’ counterpart across the technical area, revealed he had breathed “a sight of relief” when the Bulgarian eventually settled an absorbing third round tie.
United, who are 21st in the table, return to action at Coventry this weekend and Adams said: “If we show the same type of application and determination that we did out there then we’ll be okay.
“I wasn’t pleased with the result but I was pleased with the performance and how they responded.
“We could have folded after going a couple behind but we came back strongly and that showed guts.”
Former United defender Kyle Walker and Marc Albrighton powered Villa in front before the interval but the South Yorkshire side, who improved immeasurably after the break, reduced the deficit when Jamie Ward converted from the penalty spot.
Ashley Young was sent-off for Villa as United continued to press but Petrov made the game safe at the death.
“I knew they could come back,” Houllier said. “Because I’d seen them do it in their previous game against Doncaster to get a draw. “It was difficult and there were times when we had the ball and times when we just had to kick it.
“When the third went in it was a big relief.”
Adams also confirmed winger Mark Yeates dislocated a shoulder in training on the eve of the game.