Cottagers Confidential: After a fairly even match, Bristol came away with a win in the EFL Cup. How do you expect Bristol to be different during the league fixture?
Andy Stockhausen: Lee Johnson made nine changes for the EFL Cup match and fielded what was, with a few exceptions, an under-23 side. He will revert to his strongest available starting line-up for Saturday’s return to Championship action. Fulham should expect to come up against the likes of Lee Tomlin, Tammy Abraham, Gary O’Neil, Joe Bryan, Jamie Paterson, Hordur Magnusson, Frank Fielding, Mark Little and Bobby Reid from the very outset. Whereas the team was given licence to thrill in midweek, the City side that takes to the pitch on Saturday will likely adopt a more disciplined and less laissez faire approach, at least to begin with. Adam Matthews and Korey Smith are still some way short of full match fitness, but City will field the closest thing to a full-strength line-up.
CC: Bristol were the first team to out possess Fulham on the year. Granted, Fulham wasn't playing a first choice lineup and many of the players were U18 or U23. Do you expect Bristol to go for this strategy again?
AS: City’s style has been founded upon possession-based pass and move football for a few years now, the methodology being tweaked and fine-tuned, first by Sean O’Driscoll and Steve Cotterill and, more recently, by Lee Johnson. Nothing will change on Saturday. Although Johnson is an advocate of a solid back four and no-nonsense defending, he encourages players to express themselves higher up the pitch and this City side is full of goals. Those following the team on a regular basis this season have already been royally entertained.
CC: Both of Bristol's goals came in the dying moments of each half. Is there some sort of magic the squad has? If so, where do I purchase some?
AS: This particular group of players simply does not know when to give in, hence a series of late fightbacks and recoveries already this season. Cotterill and Johnson have instilled a tremendous team spirit and this has manifested itself in a never-say-die attitude that means City are able to come back from adversity. If you could bottle it and sell it, I’ve no doubt the formula would be in demand among managers the length and breadth of the country! In City’s case, the next challenge is to discover a means of forging and holding a lead rather than having to always recover from setbacks.