Robins can start the party

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Richard Latham

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.”

PIC­TURES: JMP

WIN­NING FEEL­ING: Bris­tol City’s Aden Flint cel­e­brates his cru­cial goal

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