The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Richard Latham

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SMOKIN’ JOE: Joe Bryan reels away af­ter scor­ing Bris­tol City’s first and, inset, Jamie Pater­son en­joys the sec­ond


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