Managerless Bristol City shocked Middlesbrough
JOHN Pemberton’s thoughts were with Steve Cotterill after an injury-time goal from Wes Burns clinched a Championship double over leaders Boro for managerless Bristol City.
Cotterill’s loyal assistant was as shocked as anyone by the manager’s sacking on Thursday and is desperate to have a future at Ashton Gate himself
Pemberton did those prospects no harm by overseeing a fully deserved victory, having inherited the reins along with Under-21 coach Wade Elliott.
Together they masterminded a hugely committed display that had City fans in a 15,000 crowd leaping around in elation at the final whistle.
Pemberton said: “It has been a very difficult week because we lost a good man and a good manager.
“I am gutted for Steve Cotterill and I know no one will be happier than him over the result.
“The response from the players was unbelievable and we fully deserved to win.
“With all due respect to Middlesbrough, we were the better team out there.
“We had only one day to work with the players and tried to keep things as simple as possible.
“We tried a different formation, with three Bristol lads in the team, and it all worked well.
“We have had a few last gasp goals go against us, so it was good for one to go our way.
“The lads have been giving everything and just haven’t been getting that bit of luck.
“I don’t know how long Wade and I will be in charge.
“But if it’s a week or month or a year there will be no problems from me.
“I would like to stay at the club, but in what capacity I don’t know.
“We are looking to add to the squad at the moment.”
The last-gasp winner came when Aden Flint nodded a Bobby Reid corner towards the far post and Burns was on hand to score, applying the faintest of glancing headers to the ball.
City hit the bar late on through a Flint header and created the better chances throughout.
Pemberton and Elliott opted to play with a back-four, rather than Cotterill’s trusted 3-5-2 formation and the move paid immediate dividends as City defended with greater solidity throughout against the Championship table toppers.
There was little to trouble on-loan goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell, while at the other end Dimi Konstantopoulos had to be alert to make good saves from Burns and Luke Ayling.
Boro were strangely subdued and, roared on by an enthusiastic crowd, City made light of their lowly league position to snatch a late winner through Burns.
Karanka said:“It was a late goal, but it could have come five or ten minutes earlier because we could not clear our box in the closing stages of the match. We knew it would be a tough game and that Bristol were dangerous from setpieces. But I expected much more from my players.
“We didn’t deserve to win because we didn’t play in our usual way and our key players did not perform as they can.
“People were expecting an easy win for us, but football is not like that and the Championship is not like that.
“It was a poor performance. Sometimes there is more pressure for the players in facing a struggling side than in big games and we didn’t deal with it in this game.
“We are still in a very good position and there is one less game to go, so I prefer to look forward and concentrate on the positives.”
LAST GASP: Wes Burns wins it late for managerless Bristol City