Alex Neil reveals a shocking half-time team meeting as Stoke City completes a dramatic comeback against Bristol City.

Alex Neil reveals a shocking half-time team meeting as Stoke City completes a dramatic comeback against Bristol City.

News from Ashton Gate as Stoke City come back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Bristol City 3-2.

Alex Neil has given insight into perhaps the biggest half-time team talk of his Stoke City career as his side came from 2-0 down win 3-2 at Bristol City.

Stoke looked on course for a sixth game without a win when they trailed by two after just 15 minutes at Ashton Gate, conceding from another set-piece before a disastrous Ki-Jana Hoever back pass laid on Nahki Wells for the second. An excellent goal from Mehdi Leris kept them in contention but the manager was less than satisfied with the performance amid audible dissent from a frustrated away end. But Stoke came out for the second half and almost immediately equalised through a close range deflected finish from Sead Haksabanovic.

Then, following a Bristol City rally, teenage substitute Nathan Lowe scored a stunning winner after superb work from Bae Junho.

Neil said: “It was probably as bad a start to the game we could have had, to concede from a set play after five minutes, which we had spoken about at length. We even mentioned the other day that they’re not particularly big, but they didn’t need to be. That was really disappointing.

“And then obviously the second one… I think you can see at that stage that the confidence looked as if it had been sapped out the players at that point.

“The biggest turning point for us was probably the first goal because it gave us a lifeline going into half time. When you get that lifeline it makes it a game in the second half and we get an opportunity to go and try to get ourselves back into the match.

“Half-time was a big, big half-time for us in terms of needing to come out and respond and make sure things we did things with a lot more impetus and basically play without fear. I thought in the first half we played ‘scared football’, with possession and without possession. I thought we were timid. We didn’t really crunch into tackles, we were second to most balls in game.

 

“I said to them, ‘Listen, it’s my job to make sure that I absorb all the press and all the flak and everything that’s coming about. Your job is just to make sure you focus on what you do on the pitch. Don’t play with fear because the fact is you’re just here to do your job and then after that I’ll deal with the rest. That’s what my responsibility is. Your responsibility is to make sure that you don’t let yourself down on the pitch.’

“I don’t think in the first half many could come off and say that they didn’t let themselves down. The first half wasn’t enough.”

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