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Steve Cotterill Hails "Magnificent" Smith

Steve Cotterill heaped praise on four-goal hero Matt Smith after the on-loan Fulham striker fired his temporary employers to within touching distance of Wembley.

City will take a 4-2 lead into the second leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern area final having seen off Gillingham at Priestfield for the third time in the space of two months.

The visitors fell behind to Cody McDonald’s sixth minute opener but from then on never looked back.

Smith fired a hat-trick before McDonald struck his second of the night to leave City’s advantage looking a slender one until the irrepressible Smith unleashed a dipping volley to complete the scoring 13 minutes from time.

“He was magnificent,” said Cotterill of his number nine, speaking to Bristol City Player.

“I remember reading in the local paper about the jury being out on him and the jury is still out – he should’ve had eight tonight!

“The header for his second goal and his strike at the end were just magnificent.

“He and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas worked their socks off and were a fantastic pairing tonight; they got everything they deserved.

“That’s only the first part of the job done. We’re pleased with some aspects of our performance tonight and we’re not pleased with a few other things, so we need to brush up on them and we will do.

“There’s nothing new in what we’re doing. We’d already come here twice, had two tough games and played really well.

“Tonight we’ve gone a goal down against the run of play and had to dig ourselves out of a hole, but we’ve scored four great goals and all in all we showed good attacking prowess and played well here again.”

The manager later revealed Todd Kane, who was not named in Cotterill’s 16-man squad for the game, has now returned to Chelsea and looks set to continue his development on loan at another club.

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