JOHNSON JOY AS ROBINS RISE TO THIRD
LEE Johnson was a proud head coach as his Bristol City team leapt to third in the Championship table with a deserved victory.
Two goals in three second-half minutes from Joe Bryan and Jamie Paterson gave the hosts breathing space before a 75thminute own goal from Hordur Magnusson set up a tense finish.
Johnson said: “It is still early days as far as league positions are concerned, but I’m delighted to be eight points clear of a very good side in Middlesbrough.
“Had we lost, they would have been right on our heels and, with a very good manager in Garry Monk, I expect them to kick on from here.
“We scored two great goals. Aden Flint tells me he wants to change numbers from four to seven because he thinks he’s a winger after his cross for the second.
“We have five players out injured and some others are having to play out of position. We had four centre-backs in our back four and Joe Bryan would prefer to be at left-back than left midfield.
“Despite that, he has got us a really important goal. Milan Djuric needs a groin operation but wants to soldier on until Famara Diedhiou is fit again. That sums up the spirit in our camp.”
The rampant Robins shaded an even first half, with Marlon Pack seeing an effort cleared off the line by Boro striker Britt Assombalonga and Darren Randolph saving Nathan Baker’s diving header.
They took the lead in the 51st minute when Bailey Wright’s deep cross from the right was nodded in at the far post by the unmarked Bryan, who didn’t need to leave the ground to convert the chance from close range.
Three minutes later a superb break out of defence, started by Korey Smith and carried on by Flint, saw the big central defender produce a deft cross for Paterson to blast the ball home from ten yards.
Middlesbrough were given a chance on 75 minutes when Magnusson headed an innocuous ball into the box from the right by substitute Marvin Johnson past his own goalkeeper.
But Johnson’s men went close close again when Josh Brownhill’s late drive brought a diving save from keeper Randolph and defended strongly in the closing stages.
Boro, relegated from the Premier League in the summer, could not find an equaliser and have now lost three of their last four games, leaving them six points off the play-offs in ninth.
Monk was scathing about his team’s performance.
“I can only apologise to our fans because that was unacceptable,” he said,
“I know we have good players and I expected a lot more of them tonight. For 70 minutes we were not good enough and to show a reaction when you are 20 down is all too easy.
“We began to do the things we should have been doing from the start. That isn’t acceptable and it hurts. I take responsibility.
“There were a lot of strong discussions this week after we let ourselves down in the second half against Derby and I expected a reaction.
“Our supporters have spent a lot of hard-earned cash to travel a long way and they deserved better.
“The second goal came from our own free-kick and we had a couple of chances to get in challenges to stop their counter attack. It was a soft goal.”
SMOKIN’ JOE: Joe Bryan reels away after scoring Bristol City’s first and, inset, Jamie Paterson enjoys the second
STAR MAN JOE BRYAN Bristol City