Johnson Delighted With City Spirit
Posted: Tuesday, September 27th 2016
Tuesday, September 27th 2016
Marlon Pack’s first goal of the season was enough to earn City a third successive victory as the redeveloped Ashton Gate hosted its first match under the lights.
The influential midfielder struck the decisive blow in the 59th minute, dispatching Lee Tomlin’s inviting pass with a calm finish past former England goalkeeper Robert Green.
Despite the return from illness of Gary O’Neil, Lee Johnson named an unchanged starting line-up following Saturday’s comprehensive 4-0 victory at Fulham.
The early signs were good for the hosts. Full backs Mark Little and Joe Bryan were flying up and down the flanks and delivering crosses, with Leeds struggling to deal with the pace of City’s attacks.
Having said that, neither goalkeeper would be unduly troubled in the opening exchanges. Tomlin’s typically imaginative attempt to open the scoring resulted in a clever chip over his man and a low shot into the side-netting that brought Ashton Gate to its feet.
Then Bryan brought Luke Ayling down to earth with a bump when he launched into a tackle on the touchline that was hard but fair in every sense. Welcome back, Luke.
Leeds may have come into the game on the back of four straight wins but showed little to worry City for the first 20 minutes.
The visitors’ best moment saw Hadi Sacko escape down the right wing and pick out the onrushing Pablo Hernandez, but the former Spain international dragged his first-time shot a couple of yards wide.
Frenchman Sacko was full of pace and quick to lead a Leeds counter-attack when he darted away from Little and forced a save from Frank Fielding, before a crucial big toe from Aden Flint cleared the danger as the ball ran back into the winger’s path.
City had started the opening period on top and would finish it in the same manner. Bryan’s bold run from left-back took him deep into Leeds territory before his through ball to Tammy Abraham found the striker just fractionally offside.
It was the first of three involvements for City’s red-hot marksman in quick succession.
A speedy breakaway saw Luke Freeman sprint forward in support of Tomlin, opening up space for the number ten to instead look to his right and feed Abraham, who was for once found wanting with his finish.
Then Little reached the byeline and crossed low for Abraham, who almost got himself too far beyond the near post to direct his shot on target as the ball zipped towards him.
There was still further drama, as Bobby Reid’s teasing cross was helped on by Jamie Paterson to force an important save from Green, before Tomlin’s altercation with Stuart Dallas earned him a fifth booking of the season and a one-match ban.
Having finished strongly, City set about resuming the action on the front foot after half-time. The link-up play between Paterson and Little had already been encouraging before the pair combined again when the marauding defender sent another low cross in search of Abraham, only for the striker to lose his footing.
In a cruel twist, the lively Little was about to depart and force Johnson into handing a home debut to Taylor Moore at right-back.
Doing his bit to chase down Dallas, the City man pulled up suddenly and knew his evening was over. With no Adam Matthews on the bench, Moore, a central defender by trade, was called into the action.
But the change would do nothing to halt City’s growing momentum and the opener duly arrived just shy of the hour mark.
When Dallas was caught in possession, Tomlin advanced towards the edge of the penalty area with menace and waited for the run of Pack to his left.
With the weight of pass inch perfect, City’s skipper for the night did not have to take a touch before shooting high into the net with all the confidence of a player who finds himself in such positions week in, week out.
City had done the hard bit and made the breakthrough, but now needed to stay rigid and build on their first Championship clean sheet of the season at Fulham.
The pace of Sacko remained Leeds’ most potent weapon. Having forced a fingertip stop from Fielding down to the keeper’s right, he raced away from Bryan only for the Bristolian to recover quite brilliantly to snuff out the danger.
Fielding had to be alert again to deny ex-City loanee Chris Wood down by his near post, before a chance to double the lead came and went when Reid pulled a shot wide but not wide enough to find the onrushing Abraham.
The dismissal of Leeds boss Garry Monk in the closing stages did little to help his mood, but opposite number Johnson was celebrating City’s rise into the play-off positions.
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