Benitez: Two points dropped; Johnson ‘proud’ of City

Date published: Saturday 25th February 2017 4:26

Rafael Benitez: Dismissed link

Rafael Benitez believes it was a case of two points dropped despite watching Newcastle recover from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw with lowly Bristol City.

Ciaran Clark’s 82nd-minute header earned a vital point in the race for promotion after the Robins had gone in at half-time with a shock lead.

Goals from Aaron Wilbraham and David Cotterill gave the visitors the upper hand, but Korey Smith’s own goal gave the hosts a lifeline – and they could even have won it in the end.

Newcastle face a defining week in their quest for promotion, with trips to Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading up next, but rather than celebrating a point gained after a terrible start, Benitez rued a spate of late missed chances.

“For me it is two points lost,” the Spaniard said. “We didn’t start well, we made mistakes and gave them hope they could get a result, but the reaction in the second half was very good.

“I’m pleased with that because that’s what we have to do.

“With the chances we had I think we could have scored again and won the game.

“We have a lot of games to play. My concern is that we made some mistakes that we can’t afford to make in the future. We showed character in the second half, but we have to stay calm.

“If we play with the high tempo like we did in the second half we will win games. The fans realise that this is not an easy mission and they know they have to support the players.

“The reaction was great and the fans pushed that.”

Benitez is hopeful top goalscorer Dwight Gayle will feature in the next three games despite the fact he limped off during Monday’s win over Aston Villa.

“I watched him train this morning so we will see how he feels, but he will have a chance against Brighton, we will see,” he said.

Under-fire Robins boss Lee Johnson hopes his side can take plenty of positives from the draw on Tyneside as they continue their fight against relegation to League One.

“I’m very proud of the players because this is a very difficult place to come – a Premier League club in waiting. No doubt they will get promoted,” Johnson said.

“We had four academy graduates playing in front of 52,000. I thought our energy and our work rate was top notch.

“It’s not ideal to concede two when you are 2-0 up but I will take the positives after a very difficult week.

“That’s the marker now. Not the result, but the attitude and the willingness to work for the team.”

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