Robins can start the party
LEE JOHNSON planned one small celebration as his Bristol City team all but mathematically secured Championship survival with a storming second-half comeback.
The result left the Robins six points clear of third-frombottom Blackburn Rovers with only two games left, and with a vastly superior goal difference.
“I am going home to give the wife a cuddle,” said Johnson. “She has been through a lot with me this season.
“While I feel like I want to really celebrate, we can’t just yet. Until safety is guaranteed we must keep on being professional and doing our jobs.”
Twice behind against Johnson’s former club, City produced a dazzling second-half display, crowned when towering centre-back Aden Flint netted the winner with a bullet header on 74 minutes.
Ashton Gate fans were certainly in celebratory mood at the final whistle after news came in that Blackburn had only managed a draw with Wolves.
Johnson added: “We didn’t stick to our game plan in the first half and there were a few Jaffa Cakes flying around the dressing room at half-time.
“In the second half Tammy Abraham and Matty Taylor were brilliant up front and the rest of the team responded. The crowd were unbelievable and in the end it was a terrific effort.
“Jamie Paterson looks a £25million player on that form. When he is at it, he is unplayable.”
Barnsley were the better side in the first half and deservedly led when George Moncur’s long-range shot was deflected past Frank Fielding, with teammate Alex Mowatt claiming a vital touch.
City were incensed that the goal was scored with their left- back Joe Bryan lying prostrate after an awkward fall, and Johnson was lectured for his protests to the fourth official.
The home side were transformed after the break. Paterson’s crossfield pass on 53 minutes gave Josh Brownhill space to head across goal where Abraham shot his 26th goal of the season after Taylor’s effort had been blocked.
Just when it seemed City were in command Barnsley hit them on the break. A poor pass from Bailey Wright allowed Adam Armstrong to race forward and feed Moncur, who blasted a right-footed shot into the roof of the net.
Back came City with Paterson coolly lobbing their second equaliser after Barnsley failed to deal with a long ball. The winger also supplied the corner for Flint’s untstoppable winner.
The visitors lost their captain and influential centre-back Marc Roberts with an ankle injury at half-time and never looked the same team.
Head coach Paul Heckingbottom said: “It was a match-changing injury. We had to reorganise our back line and it showed.
“Roberts would have been marking Flint for his winning goal. But we needed to be better after starting the game well.
“I am not going to use it as an excuse. Injuries provide opportunities for other players and in this case they weren’t taken.
“We got what we deserved in the end and I learned a few more things about my players going forward. Credit to the lads that we have not been involved in the relegation battle. This was City’s day and I just wish we could have made it tougher.”
WINNING FEELING: Bristol City’s Aden Flint celebrates his crucial goal