Sunderland boss Simon Grayson has lauded his side's mental strength following the Wearsiders' 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night at Hillsborough.
The Black Cats started brightly and took an early lead thanks to George Honeyman capitalising on poor goalkeeping from Kieran Westwood, allowing the 22-year-old to lash the ball home from 15 yards through a crowd of defenders.
But the North East side were pegged back midway through the second-half courtesy of a 30-yard wonder strike from Owls midfielder David Jones, who gave Sunderland goalkeeper Jason Steele no chance.
The hosts continued to squeeze the former Premier League side, coming close on numerous occasions, including striker Jordan Rhodes hitting the woodwork, but the visitors stood firm defensively and Grayson was left thrilled with his side's determination and mental strength.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, that side of the game [character] is every bit as important as what we did against Norwich”, the 47-year-old told the Sunderland Echo.
“You have to stand strong and make sure you put your bodies on the line and do whatever is required to win a game or get a result.
“We had to do that. They were kicking towards their supporters and really had a go in the closing stages. They built a bit of pressure, but we withstood things and that is what we had to do.
“I go back to the first half and if we’d got that second goal we would have won the game because I don’t think they would have come back from it.
“You have to be strong mentally and you have to have a team spirit where people will work for each other. Any team that has done well in this division has had that spirit and togetherness and have been willing to put their bodies on the line.''
“You can’t just play fancy football all the time. There are times when you have to dig deep and this is another valuable point to add to the start of the season.”
However, even though Sheffield Wednesday turned the screw somewhat during the closing exchanges, Grayson still believes his side did enough to come away with something.
“Overall, it is a fair result,” said the Sunderland manager. “It is a tough place to come and we have had a tough schedule – they have had an extra day recovery from our game on Sunday. You come to a difficult place and get a point – you would take that.
“We are definitely pleased. If you ask any manager whether you would be pleased unbeaten after three games and still in the cup then you would take that. We have had a difficult start – with the schedule and the teams we have played to have taken five points from nine we are more than happy.
“I thought defensively we were comfortable right up to the goal, they didn’t ask too many questions.
“They went wide a lot, which we expected, and we wanted to force them down that side of the pitch, given they were playing with a diamond. When the ball went into the box, most people did their jobs.
“I was pleased with the attitude and the defensive units we had right across the pitch.”