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Gaffer's FA Cup verdict

25 January 2015

Nigel Clough expressed his delight at United being in Monday's draw for the FA Cup fifth round, following Saturday's 1-1 stalemate with Preston North End at Deepdale.

Despite making eight changes from Wednesday starting XI against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, Diego De Girolamo's second-half strike cancelled out former Blades loanee Paul Gallagher's first-half opener for the Lilywhites, meaning a replay will be required at Bramall Lane next month.

But Clough was more than satisfied with the outcome in Lancashire and felt his side might have even snatched a winner to settle the tie on the day.

He commented: "We wanted to be in the hat for the fifth round come 5pm on Saturday and we are, that is brilliant, whilst it was also important not to lose a third game on the bounce.

"We went behind early on, but gradually we grew into the game and came back strongly in the second-half.

"The team took a lot of picking, but in the end we just felt that we had a better chance of winning the tie with a fresh team even though it wasn't our strongest.

"Saying that, Chris Basham and Louis Reed who played at Spurs on Wednesday were outstanding."

Ben Davies completed over 80 minutes on first start since October and young midfielder Connor Dimaio also featured from the off and the Blades boss was encouraged by what he saw from his players, he added:

"We have got a tight knit squad and that shows on occasions like this one, when people just slot in and know their job within the formation.

"We had hoped to involve Flo Cuvelier but he wasn't quite fit enough after just one training session on Friday, which gave young Connor Dimaio a chance.

"He did well and it is a great statement as a Club to show how we will continue to give our Academy a chance.

"We didn't get going with three centre-halves, which we felt was right with the personnel available to us. Mark Howard was disappointed with the goal we conceded, that set us back, but we switched to 4-4-2 and looked much better."

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