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Despite Results, James O’Connor Encouraged By Performances

Though the results may not be ideal, City head coach James O’Connor sees encouraging signs from his Lions.

For the second time this season (and just the second time ever), the Lions have scored at least three goals in two consecutive games. Four players have found the back of the net and another four have picked up assists. More encouraging than that, though, is how they’re scoring.

City has scored following spells of possession, after moments of high pressing and counterattacks and, most recently, two headers on free kicks. There was also City’s first own-goal in favor since 2016.

“We’ve been able to cut through some teams, lovely passages when we’ve scored some really good goals,” O’Connor said before training on Thursday. “But again, we want to win. It’s trying to do that and make sure that we keep the clean sheet and win.”

Because while the Lions have been scoring at an unprecedented clip, they’ve been conceding at one, too. But O’Connor accurately described them as “really cheap” goals, so it’s not like City is getting picked apart regularly. It’s just about correcting the momentary lapses in judgement.

Another encouraging factor for O’Connor was the Lions’ fight against New England. Going down two goals in the first 20 minutes could spell doom for any team, but the Lions fought back from two separate deficits to keep pace with the Eastern Conference playoff line.

“To be fair to Yoshi [Yotún], he’s done incredibly well to stay on the field,” O’Connor said, then noting that it was a “major doubt” if Yotún could go on after several hard fouls in the first half. “Even from Sacha [Kljestan], he wanted to try to push and keep going. It shows you that they really care.

“Great credit, great character to come back, to show that fight to get back into the game.”

O’Connor was quick to share the love with everyone involved in the comeback.

“The supporters played a huge role tonight,” he said after the match without even being asked about them. “When you look at the atmosphere, the way they stuck with the team. They raised the level for us and really got us going. Again, from the bottom of my heart, a massive thank-you to all the supporters tonight. It was great.”

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