Match Analysis: Aston Villa 2, Sheffield United 2 - Chris Wilder hails Blades spirit but admits: 'We're disappointed not to win the game'

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Sometimes, despite all the science, statistics and systems managers employ, it all boils down to a hunch.

Chris Wilder suspected, having joined Sheffield United from Birmingham City earlier this season, the prospect of facing Aston Villa would appeal to Clayton Donaldson.

And so it proved as two goals from the centre-forward, both scored at the famous Holte End, saw the visitors overcome a desperate start to secure the point Wilder felt was the very least their combative performance, laced with plenty of high quality football, deserved.

“I just had a feeling that Clayton might enjoy it here,” he admitted.

“Not least because of who his last club was. He’s been knocking on the door and pushing hard in training but there are times when you just get a hunch and you’ve got to go with that.”

The portents were ominous when United, having lost their previous three games en route to the Midlands, conceded twice within the first 10 minutes.

Clayton Donaldson scores his second: Sportimage

Clayton Donaldson scores his second: Sportimage

If Villa’s opener was shrouded in controversy - Albert Adomah converting from the penalty spot following Richard Stearman’s seemingly legitimate challenge on Keinan Davis - there was no debate about the second when Mile Jedinak manoeuvred himself between two defenders to head Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick beyond Simon Moore.

Given the circumstances, Wilder later suggested that other teams in similar form may well have crumbled, what ensued spoke volumes about United’s depth of character.

Donaldson, making only his eighth appearance since leaving St Andrews, reduced the deficit with a superb chip over the advancing Sam Johnstone after being released by John Lundstram before restoring parity with an equally impressive finish. Jedinak’s error created the opportunity but, given the acute angle, there was still plenty for the 33-year-old to do.

“I actually reckon that’s my proudest result since coming here because of where it was, how it happened and the results coming in,” Wilder, whose team slip to seventh, added.

George Baldock challenges Jack Grealish

George Baldock challenges Jack Grealish

“It stopped the rot and it showed a response. It told you what these lads are about.”

Donaldson, who also claimed a brace on his debut against today’s opponents Sunderland, was instrumental for United.

But others, including Lundstram and the returning Mark Duffy, were influential too.

As Villa’s body language became increasingly mutinous, as shrugs, gesturing and gesticulating followed every stray pass, United created a glorious opportunity to actually win the game but Leon Clarke, the Championship’s leading goalscorer, directed a stooping header wide from George Baldock’s inviting cross.

Celebration time for Donaldson

Celebration time for Donaldson

Jack Grealish’s movement caused problems but, given the array of expensive talent at his disposal, Steve Bruce’s side appeared woefully short of creative ideas although Adomah spurned a clear-cut chance of his own after Donaldson had claimed his second.

Cameron Carter-Vickers and Duffy drew reaction saves from Johnstone either side of the interval as the momentum swung back in United’s favour.

“In the end,” Wilder acknowledged, “we were probably disappointed not to win it.

“We’ve made a few tweaks and that was probably a reminder to us, as staff too, that we have to work hard on things like defending and shape.

“To come back like that, against a proper football club, was excellent.”