The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Richard Latham

LEE JOHN­SON in­sisted he did not fear for his job af­ter his side slipped to their sev­enth suc­ces­sive Cham­pi­onship de­feat.

An­thony Pilk­ing­ton’s su­perb 85th-minute win­ner struck from 25 yards pro­vided an­other kick in the guts for the young Bris­tol City head coach.

John­son de­layed his post-match press con­fer­ence un­til more than an hour af­ter the game and then emerged from the dress­ing room in de­fi­ant mood.

“We are rock solid as a club at the mo­ment,” he said. “I have to­tal faith in my own abil­ity and I’m glad to say that is shared by the peo­ple who mat­ter.

“It is ask­ing a lot for the fans to stay pa­tient dur­ing such a bad run, but I know we will turn re­sults around.

“We keep los­ing by the odd goal and are not get­ting bat­tered by any­one. No one is hurt­ing more than me and to­day I am an­gry, frus­trated and vexed.

“We have had some ex­cel­lent in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances, in­clud­ing from our three new play­ers [Jens Hegeler, Mi­lan Djuric and Bai­ley Wright], but as a team we pan­icked in the clos­ing stages and that is not ac­cept­able.

“The play­ers have to look hard at them­selves and the same ap­plies to me. I have faith in my squad and I am sure we will turn things around. But words are cheap.”

Af­ter a drab first half, Bris­tol went ahead when Joe Bryan’s 51st-minute vol­ley from just out­side the box struck the cross­bar and then the back of div­ing Cardiff goal­keeper Brian Mur­phy for an un­for­tu­nate own goal.

The home side looked in con­trol un­til the 74th minute when Mark Lit­tle con­ceded a penalty by trip­ping Joe Ralls when the ball was head­ing away from goal. Pilk­ing­ton drove the spot-kick down the mid­dle to equalise.

Tammy Abra­ham’s ac­ro­batic over­head kick from a Mi­lan Djuric knock-down put Bris­tol back in front on 78 min­utes. It was the Chelsea loa­nee’s 18th goal of the sea­son.

But sub­sti­tute Kadeem Har­ris out-bat­tled Bryan at the far post to head a sec­ond Cardiff equaliser on 82 min­utes be­fore Pilk­ing­ton found the top cor­ner three min­utes later to grab the win­ner and spark wild cel­e­bra­tions among 2,000 trav­el­ling sup­port­ers.

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock summed up the trans­for­ma­tion in for­tunes in the clos­ing stages of a stir­ring sec­ond half.

“At 2-1 down I was stood there think­ing, ‘Why am I still do­ing this job at 68?’ At 3-2 up I re­mem­bered ex­actly why I was do­ing it,” he said.

“It’s al­ways spe­cial beat­ing Bris­tol City for me be­cause you have to work hard for any­thing you get at Ash­ton Gate.

“The win­ning goal was a fan­tas­tic strike and I haven’t run so fast in ages. I’m de­lighted for our fans, who con­trib­uted to a bril­liant at­mos­phere.

“We still need five or six play­ers to get to where we want to be. I am meet­ing the chair­man tonight and no doubt that will be dis­cussed.

“But I am de­lighted with what the cur­rent squad are do­ing. The play­ers are buy­ing into how I want to play and we are mak­ing progress.”

John­son also con­firmed that Luke Free­man had been left out of Bris­tol’s squad be­cause he has yet to sign a new con­tract. The winger is thought to be a tar­get for Queens Park Rangers.

PIC­TURES: Gary Day/ Frozen in Moti­ion

KING PIL: An­thony Pilk­ing­ton, right, cel­e­brates scor­ing the win­ner for Cardiff with Aron Gun­nars­son In­set: Neil Warnock en­joys it

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