Nigel Adkins rues missed opportunity after Sheffield United’s late blow at Old Trafford

Sheffield United players stand dejected as Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (fourth right) celebrates.
Sheffield United players stand dejected as Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (fourth right) celebrates.
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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Nigel Adkins saluted his side’s brave display which was within minutes of securing a deserved FA Cup round-three replay at Old Trafford - until a last-gasp penalty from Wayne Rooney took Manchester United into the next round.

Rooney coolly sent George Long the wrong way from the spot after Jonathan Moss awarded a penalty after Blades’ midfielder Dean Hammond’s sliding challenge on substitute Memphis.

Rooney’s successful conversion broke Blades hearts - with the visitors roared on by a raucous band of 8,500 followers.

Adkins, whose side return to League One action at Wigan on Tuesday, said: “It was a shame, there were three results on offer and we wanted two of them.

“A replay at Bramall Lane would have been fantastic for us...

“But great credit to the players. We showed good character and a resilience, grit and determination - and discipline and concentration.

“We frustrated a very good Manchester United side and nullified the chances they had.

“We had 8,500 supporters today and I think they appreciated the effort and commitment of the players on show. You could see us as a football club really come together.”

On the late penalty award, Adkins added: “It’s a shame that in the 92nd or 93rd minute that an honest endeavour to put a block in has given trhe referee an opportunity to award a penalty which obviously Manchester United have taken with both hands.

“The referee gives it, whether you think it is or not. From my point of view, there’s no need for the player to go to ground with players around him. But that was just honest endeavour to try and block a situation.”

Adkins’ counterpart Louis van Gaal admitted his side produced a poor display, but said he was satisfied with progress into the next round.

The Dutchman said: “The result is okay and there is no escape, we won.

“The result was alright, but the performance was not alright.

“We moved the ball too slowly and with the defensive organisation they had, there were ten players behind the ball, then you have to make the pitch as big as possible. We didn’t do that in the first half.

“In the second half, after the changes, it was a little bit better. But it has to be much better.”