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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Saturday, December 23rd 2017

Players were outstanding once again - Johnson

Lee Johnson says it is credit to his players for an outstanding second-half against QPR.

City had to fight from 1-0 down to leave Loftus Road with a point after a dominant performance after the break, in which they bombarded the away end, hit the post once and had a handful of penalty appeals dismissed.

Aden Flint headed a Luke Freeman free-kick into his own net, before Bobby Red’s late penalty hit the back of the net to extend City’s unbeaten run to six matches.

Speaking after the game, head coach Johnson told BCTV “Massive credit goes to the players. I thought they were outstanding today.

“The first 15/20 minutes were difficult, conceding a goal at half time but I said to them ‘listen, you may as well go for it because I’m going to change it if we need to after 10/15 minutes’ and we did that.

EXCEPTIONAL CITY

“We were exceptional in the last half an hour. With that energy we looked like a side that had had a fortnight’s rest. We pushed Flinty up front and people got bits off that and arguably, we could have scored four of five goals in that last half an hour.

“I’m delighted with the lads. It’s how football goes [opportunities will be missed]. This is a tough place to play. The crowd are on top of you, they were fresh and full of energy. But I love my lads, I think they are class, with Bobby Reid and Korey Smith sprinting around, Hordur Magnusson launching balls into the box, Browny (Josh Brownhill) getting tight and sticking to people - there are too many things to mention!

Bobby Reid celebrates after scoring his penalty

JOHNSON HAILS FAN SUPPORT

“I think the crowd appreciated it as well. They drove us on in that last half an hour and it’s what we needed.

“There was a bit of misfortune [for Flinty’s own goal] but it was a good ball. Freeman’s got unbelievable delivery and it was a great ball in. It’s disappointing to give the free-Kick away in that area but it happens. We haven’t conceded many and I felt we always had a couple of goals in us so we had to tweak it.”

FLINTY UP FRONT

The head coach opted to throw Flint forward to support Cauley Woodrow and Reid in the attack.

He was an effective target man and the tall number four was at the centre of a handful of penalty appeals, with shouts for pushes in the back.

Johnson continued: “Without Milan Djuric and Famara Diédhiou you need a platform to play off. I wish I has done it [put Flinty up front] earlier!

Aden Flint

THE PENALTY APPEALS

“We should have had three penalties before the one we received. I think it was the lightest, genuine penalty of the four. We got that one but it was probably the final straw that broke the camel’s back for the referee.”

PATERSON INJURED

Jake Andrews was a late call up to the first 18 when Jamie Paterson, initially on the City bench, had to be recalled after feeling his hamstring during the warm-up at Loftus Road.

Johnson said: “He has an ongoing hamstring complaint which is causing him a problem. It’s his nerves not the muscle, it’s in the nerves so he just feels like it’s going to go every now and again. We’ve got to manage it, we couldn’t risk him today although it would have been great to have Pato on the field. Hopefully he will be alright for the Reading game.

“The players are in tomorrow (Christmas Eve) but then I am giving them Christmas Day off. They will be given a heart-rate monitor to do something, whether it be a 40/50 minute walk with the family or. 20-minute jog they will have exercise and stretches to do. They have to be educated about how much salt is in their Christmas dinner but I trust them that come Boxing Day, we will be fine."

A POST-CHRISTMAS CRACKER WITH READING

The Royals are City’s next opponents when the Sky Bet Championship returns on Boxing Day (3pm kick-off).

It will be City’s first game at Ashton Gate since the Manchester United clash.

Johnson added: “I like Reading, they are a good side. I think it will be a tough game but again we will need the energy from the crowd. The Manchester United game and today was phenomenal and we need, although it’s a cliche and I hate cliches, but we do need the 12th man.”

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