Clayton Donaldson struck twice as Sheffield United recovered from an early two-goal deficit to claim a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.
Villa took a fourth-minute lead through Albert Adomah’s penalty and Mile Jedinak doubled the advantage five minutes later to seemingly put the home side on course for a first league win in four matches.
However, Donaldson quickly made it 2-1 and the former Birmingham striker levelled things up in the 26th minute to leave both clubs level on 38 points in the Championship, Villa lying sixth and United seventh.
Chris Wilder, United’s manager, had every reason to be satisfied with a welcome away point after watching his side torn to pieces in the opening 10 minutes.
“It was a great performance,” claimed Wilder. “We would have been desperately disappointed not to have got something from the game.
“Maybe we did not do enough to win. They started massively on the front foot and then we got back into the game which later ebbed and flowed.
“I was delighted when the chips were down it was an attitude and character game more than a free flowing performance.”
Wilder was full of praise for Donaldson’s performance, adding: “In his first game he scored two goals against Sunderland and then pulled his hamstring.
“It’s been a little stop-start for Clayton. He has got back into the side over the last three weeks and is doing well.
“His signing from Birmingham City may have surprised a few people but he suited the way we are.
“We are not big hitters in the Championship but we have to work to identify players we can get into the club.
“Hopefully he can now kick on as scoring two goals against Villa will boost his confidence.”
Following some recent poor results Wilder feels the draw will be a turning point in their fortunes.
“It is not the biggest result of day in the Championship but it feels like a win to us after recent games,” he added. “The general feeling is that we are progressing and now we have to two massive home games with a 33,000 sell-out against Sunderland on Boxing Day.”
Villa Park has not been a happy hunting ground for United and this was their 11th visit without a win, but they can take comfort from fighting back for only their second draw of the season, and one that ended a run of three successive defeats.
Keeping a clean sheet this campaign has been a major problem for the Blades and it looked ominous for the visitors when they conceded a penalty inside three minutes.
Richard Stearman was the guilty party with a challenge on Keinan Davis which saw referee Simon Hooper immediately point to the spot, with Adomah converting.
That put United on the back foot and they were tormented by some impressive play by Adomah, and Villa took further advantage in the ninth minute with a second goal.
A routine inswinging free-kick from the right by Robert Snodgrass evaded the entire United defence to reach Jedinak, and he planted his free header well out of the reach of Simon Moore.
A first Villa win in almost a month suddenly looked on the cards, but United hit back in style - led by Donaldson.
This time it was the visitors who were able to make the most of some carefree play from their opponents to reduce the arrears in the 12th minute.
Donaldson ran through unchecked following a long ball from John Lundstram to score with a nonchalant lob over the head of Sam Johnstone.
The 33-year-old then put United back on level terms with the fourth goal of an exciting opening to the clash.
On that occasion Jedinak completely missed a low cross from Mark Duffy and Donaldson calmly slotted a low angled shot through the legs of Johnstone.
In an attempt to carve out a win Villa made a double substitution midway through the second half, sending on strikers Gabriel Agbonlahor and Scott Hogan.
Meanwhile, Donaldson was surprisingly replaced at the same time by Billy Sharp, but none of the new faces could find a winner as the game fizzled out into a draw.