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Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill hails players

15 December 2014

Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill was bursting with pride after Luke Ayling's late winner had sent his side back to the top of the table.

Cotterill heaped praise on his players after Ayling's 87th-minute winner had sunk battling Crawley and maintained City's momentum at the end of a busy period.

"I have never been more proud of them," said Cotterill.

"In the space of a week we have won two cup ties and a league game without conceding a goal and the way the lads started the game and then kept going right to the end was fantastic.

"It was a great finish by Luke for the goal. If you asked who was the most popular player among a lot of great lads in our dressing room he would be in the top three.

"He always has a smile on his face when he comes in to training and he is a fantastic footballer with great technique.

"Crawley made it tough for us, but I know my players will keep giving their all for 90 minutes-plus and again our fitness and team spirit shone through."

Ayling demonstrated the composure of a seasoned striker to calmly chest the ball down and volley home from an angle after the visitors had failed to clear Luke Freeman's corner from the left.

It was one of very few mistakes by a committed Crawley defence, but manager John Gregory was not about to congratulate his players for the narrowest of defeats.

He said: "I am not interested in hard luck stories. We have done a lot of things well, but we have lost the game and that's all that matters.

"We made some poor decisions when in good positions going forward.

"Sometimes players are content to go close with efforts at goal when they need to score.

"They needed no motivation coming to a ground like Ashton Gate and taking on a very good side. Already I have challenged them to play the same way against Port Vale in our next game.

"We have to do better if we are to stay in League 1. I have never settled for coming second and, while there was a lot to praise in what we did, the final outcome was a defeat."

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