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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Saturday, August 18th 2018

'We improved but goals killed us' - Johnson

Lee Johnson was left somewhat frustrated after his side fell to their first league defeat of the season at home to Middlesbrough.

First-half goals from Martin Braithwaite - a cool finish after Jack Hunt's mistimed backpass - and a close-range header from Britt Assombalonga proved to be enough to earn Boro the three points.

City came out fighting in the second half with Eros Pisano and Josh Brownhill going closest by rattling the woodwork late on, but the visitors held on to secure the win.

"It wasn’t good enough in the first half. We weren’t aggressive enough, we’re patching up in certain areas and we need to adjust that in the market where possible," Johnson told bcfc.co.uk.

"I thought Lloyd Kelly was fantastic given the fact he's 19 years old, playing at centre-half against one of the most physical teams in the division. But we played into their hands too easily. We didn’t play forward early enough, we didn’t get down the sides.

"The second half was better because we showed an attitude to play forward. We were brighter and better but their goals killed us. That’s the most frustrating thing.

"You would see the first goal at U10 level, it was that soft. There’s no excuse but it wasn’t even from one of their bigger players. It’s difficult as a coach or manager because it’s so frustrating.

"It’s a route one ball that hasn’t been dealt with well, it drives you mad but in fairness the boys gave it a go in the second half.

"It is easier to give it a go when you’re 2-0 down, particularly when they decide to shut up shop, to waste time and kill the game but what do you expect? It’s good game management from very experienced players."

WATCH: JOHNSON REFLECTS ON BORO RESULT

City have recruited over the summer after a handful of departures and Johnson says he needs his new players to fit in quickly.

"Last season we were strong. When we had Joe Bryan, Aden Flint, Nathan Baker at his best and Bailey Wright we had the very strong platform to go and play. For various reasons we didn’t have that strength out their today and we have to play a slightly different way but still with that attacking intent.

"We had chances, we hit the bar and post, had a couple of flash shots to give us a chance to get back into the game but once we let them off the hook by not finishing it became too easy for them," he said.

City looked a slightly different side after the break, creating more clear cut chances as they got forward with more threat.

When asked what he told his players at half time, Johnson replied: "My biggest point was forward passing. I’ve played a million games like that where you’re against a good side who defend well, have strength and fans looking at it from the air can see the space. When you’re down there you can only see a seres of opposition faces in your way.

"Then the crowd gets frustrated and all of sudden people start hiding, or can’t on the ball or they get on the ball and then give it away. It’s a vicious circle against that strength of an opponent, so I just said to them ‘we don’t have the time to be a new group, we have to hit the ground running’.

"The last three goals we have conceded [against Bolton, Plymouth and today] have all been far too soft. It’s always an uphill battle from conceding the first goal."

City return to Sky Bet Championship action when they travel to QPR on Tuesday night (August 21st, 7.45pm)

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