John­son hails his su­per subs for res­cu­ing the Robins

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - By Harry Pratt

Maen­paa; Hunt, Web­ster, Kalas, Dasilva (Watkins 62nd) Kelly; Pack, Elias­sonn (O’Dowda 62nd), Brown­hill; Weimann, Died­hiou (Tay­lor 78th)

Hen­der­son; Free­man, O’Con­nell, Egan; Stevens, Basham, Lund­stram (Clarke 83rd), Nor­wood; Duffy (Wash­ing­ton 68th); Sharp (John­son 68th), McGoldrick

LEE JOHN­SON pro­duced an in­spired dou­ble sub­sti­tu­tion to fire Bris­tol City to a fourth straight vic­tory – and into the thick of the pro­mo­tion race.

When the City boss threw on Mar­ley Watkins and Callum O’Dowda with half an hour left, it seemed more in hope than gen­uine be­lief it would un­hinge fel­low pro­mo­tion con­tenders Sh­effield United.

But in the 81st minute the de­ci­sion proved a mas­ter­stroke as the pair com­bined to pro­vide the only goal of a dogged, of­ten des­per­ate scrap be­tween the Cham­pi­onship’s two in-form sides.

Watkins, who had just missed a sitter, made no mis­take sec­ond time round, guid­ing in O’Dowda’s cross with an an­gled header to send the Ash­ton Gate masses wild.

The win pro­pelled them four places to third in the ta­ble and

John­son (right) said:

“I know it was a bit bor­ing for an hour and I didn’t en­vis­age it be­ing like that.

“But fit­ness is a key el­e­ment of our game and we brought that on with Mar­ley and Callum.

“I’m proud of my play­ers and pass on all the credit to them for the vic­tory. Any­one can come up with a game plan but it’s the play­ers who ex­e­cute it.

“It’s early days and we’ve been in this po­si­tion be­fore but three clean sheets in four games is giv­ing us a solid back­bone to push on.”

The con­trast in mood of Blades coun­ter­part Chris Wilder could not have been more stark af­ter their four-match win­ning streak came to an abrupt end.

He moaned: “I never felt we’d lose this be­cause for the ma­jor­ity of it we played well. To lose like that is the worst feel­ing in the world.

“We needed to put the game to bed when we were play­ing well and show more com­po­sure when try­ing to get back into it.

“If we’d scored first, I’m con­vinced we’d have won but City are a good team. Mar­ley Watkins J Brook I have to con­grat­u­late them.” The Robins cer­tainly be­gan in an up­beat frame of mind and nearly en­joyed the per­fect start af­ter three min­utes.

Swedish mid­fielder Ni­clas Elias­son showed he is more than just a cre­ator when cut­ting in­side and un­leash­ing a vi­cious 20-yard drive that Sh­effield United keeper Dean Hen­der­son par­ried.

The re­bound fell to Jay Dasilva, but at pace, and the on-loan Chelsea de­fender could not keep his ef­fort on tar­get.

United, who fall from third to fifth, took a while to get go­ing but dom­i­nated the half once they had.

Their Re­pub­lic of Ire­land hit­man David McGoldrick snatched at a golden op­por­tu­nity in the 15th minute, slic­ing a free shot hor­ri­bly wide.

Then mid­way through the pe­riod, they went closer through a whipped-in free-kick from Ol­lie Nor­wood. How the ball missed ev­ery­one in a packed six-yard box de­fied logic.

That 45 min­utes was a far cry from last sea­son’s cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture when the Blades were 3-1 up at the break. Wilder’s men even­tu­ally went on to win that 3-2 but find­ing a way past City yes­ter­day was a very dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion.

Maybe if John Lund­stram’s 53rd minute curler had not been turned away by Niki Maen­paa the flood­gates would have opened.

But it did not and for long pe­ri­ods af­ter half-time it ap­peared to be des­tined for a goal­less bore.

On 62 min­utes, though, John­son shuf­fled his pack – and that changed ev­ery­thing in City’s favour.


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