Seldom has a last-minute defeat provided such clarity.
Sheffield United’s last-gasp reverse at home to Aston Villa on Tuesday night was greeted with natural disappointment in the immediate aftermath.
But after taking stock of the season as a whole, defender Jack O’Connell is adamant the loss can be considered just a mere bump in the Blades’ road.
With two tantalising televised encounters on the horizon – a trip to league leaders Wolves and a Yorkshire derby at home to Leeds – O’Connell knows his colleagues have the perfect chance to bounce back from the Villa setback. After all, promoted United are just a place and two points shy of sixth-placed Fulham as they covet an unlikely play-off place.
“We never expected to be where we are now,” said the 23-year-old. “But we want to finish in the play-offs. So we need to keep working hard and putting performances in.
“We’re here to play in these big games, and we’ve another one on Saturday. These next two games are massive.
“We need to take points and get momentum. It would be a big statement if we do.”
Robert Snodgrass struck a superb winner in stoppage-time to inflict a maiden defeat of 2018 upon Chris Wilder’s team.
“I don’t think we deserved to win but we definitely deserved to take a point,” added O’Connell.
“A clean sheet would have been nice, but Villa have got quality all over the pitch and it showed.”
We’re here to play in these big games, and we’ve another one on Saturday. These next two games are massive.Jack O’Connell