JOHNSON: I CAN MAKE ROBINS FLY
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.
KING PIL: Anthony Pilkington, right, celebrates scoring the winner for Cardiff with Aron Gunnarsson Inset: Neil Warnock enjoys it