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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Wednesday, January 24th 2018

We will learn from playing the best - Johnson

A proud Lee Johnson says his players will learn from their experience after playing 180 minutes against Manchester City.

The Robins head coach saw his players give it their all over a two-legged semi-final in the Carabao Cup, with the Premier League leaders running out 5-3 winners on aggregate.

Speaking on BCTV, Johnson said: "Absolutely I'm proud.

"It's not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, i'm sorry we couldn't get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

"We kept going and it's taken two injury-time goals to beat us.

PUTTING BRISTOL CITY ON THE FOOTBALL MAP

"They certainly have [heard of us] now...everybody knows what we're about. It's been great.

"The lads will have learnt from that game against top players: the speed of thought, reactions to transition, the focus they have and it's amazing how they respected us in both games with the top team selection they put out.

"It was arguably a stronger team tonight than the one they put out in the first leg, and we gave it a go.

"We continued to battle, it was difficult because of their quality but we have scored two goals at home. Aden (Flint) and Packy (Marlon Pack) will go home and be very proud that they have scored.

"It may have only been 30 seconds but we were 30 seconds away from nicking a draw."

WHAT HE SAID

"It's like going from your normal Fiat Punto straight into a Formula One car and having to deal with the change of dynamics, the speed and it was a great night."

Lee Johnson

ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK

Johnson opted to make a brace of half-time changes, with Famara Diédhiou and Nathan Baker introduced for Liam Walsh and Hordur Magnusson.

"I think we had to (make the changes)," added Johnson. " The real killer was the first goal, which was a poor goal to concede; we had numerous chances to clear the ball and they are too sharp to not do that.

"It was always the plan for an attacking substitution at half-time because that's what we needed, given the fact that we were a goal down.

"I thought we had better territory in the second half just by putting another player up front. We threw caution to the wind a bit with our high pressing but when they wriggle out of it as they do, with their touch so secure and perfect, it was difficult to get the ball back."

CAN PLAYING AGAINST THE BEST HELP YOUR PLAYERS?

Man City scored in stoppage time in both legs to edge out their Championship opponents, but Johnson is hoping his players will benefit from the experience they've had.

"We're a young group and most of them are on the way up," he added. "They have either been recruited from lower leagues or foreign lands or have come up through the Academy so you can only truly learn.

"I can coach them until I'm blue in the face, but when they come up against quality it's purposeful practice. It's like going from your normal Fiat Punto straight into a Formula One car and having to deal with the change of dynamics, the speed and it was a great night.

"I can't help but be tinged with sadness because we wall wanted to win but it gives a focus now. The energy tank becomes even after the QPR game on Saturday and then with the run-in we'll have full energy going into everyone."

A COLOURFUL ATMOSPHERE AT BS3

Another Ashton Gate sell-out was a sight to behold as 22,000 flags sailed high to welcome the teams on to the pitch.

Johnson said: "I thought [the flags were] great, a really good idea and thank you to the volunteers who have worked hard putting them out and who are cleaning them up. It's much appreciated.

"It added to a great occasion here. People have seen five goals, top players for both teams and they have seen how we have continued to play and do our very best in our particular style."

MORE REACTION ON BCTV