Robbie Neilson felt his Dundee United side proved to the doubters they could compete with a top-six Premiership team after holding Hibernian to a 2-2 draw in the William Hill Scottish Cup.
United twice fought back from losing goals early in each half to force a fourth-round replay at Easter Road a week on Tuesday.
Neilson’s side are 17 points clear in the Championship after winning 11 of their last 12 matches but the United head coach felt they had a point to prove.
“I was absolutely delighted with the players,” he said. “Although we are dong really well in the Championship, there’s always that doubt in everyone’s mind: can we compete with a top-six team in Scotland? I think we showed that we can.
“We lost two goals early in each half and fought back from it. They had periods they dominated, we had periods we dominated. For me, it was a pretty even game and we take a lot of credit because we influenced a lot of the game.
“My worry coming here was, we are playing against a really good Hibs side who dominate the whole game and it wasn’t like that.”
Louis Appere forced the replay with a brilliant curling effort after Lawrence Shankland had netted from his only chance of the day, slotting home calmly in first-half stoppage-time to take his tally for the season to 26 for club and country.
Neilson said of Shankland: “He’s a good player, not just his class at the goal but also his link play. He is so fluid on the ball and calm. It was great for him to get his goal but I was pleased for them all.”
Hibs head coach Jack Ross felt his side had done enough to win the game after twice taking the lead through Christian Doidge and Martin Boyle.
“When you’re ahead twice in the game it’s frustrating and also because our performance was good,” Ross said.
“People spoke about how difficult a tie this would be and we showed that in our preparation and performance so I’m frustrated that our performance didn’t win us the game.
“We were good in a forward sense, we were bright and we created good opportunities through the course of the game.
“Ordinarily you may be critical defensively but I felt we limited United to very few opportunities. They are a good attacking team and they took both opportunities. But even the second one was not a clear-cut chance, it was just a really good finish.
“So it’s difficult to be overly critical of my team other than we didn’t win the match.”
Ross also admitted concern that both Jason Naismith and Ryan Porteous went off with knee injuries midway through the match.
“Both will be assessed but at the moment it’s concerning because both Jason and Ryan have had previous knee injuries in recent times,” he said.
“We will know more on Monday but it’s certainly worrying for us at the moment.”