City surrendered on home turf for the second time in a six weeks as plucky Doncaster profited from another dismal performance at Ashton Gate.
Lucky to escape with a point from Portman Road last weekend, Johnson chose to recall Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Nicky Maynard in a bold 4-4-2 formation but there was still no place for Paul Hartley, despite his Man of the Match performance for Scotland in midweek.
There was no doubt the players were reeling from the treatment of the popular Adriano Basso who was effectively dismissed yesterday.
And so it began, with Donny storming into a 94-second lead straight from kick-off.
Billy Sharp was allowed to march through unchallenged before unselfishly cutting back for the unmarked Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to slot home from six yards.
City were stunned into action and sought an immediate response.
Campbell-Ryce probed away on the left-hand side before cutting inside and crossing for Bradley Orr, who snuck in at the back post to poke past Neil Sullivan for the leveller on 9 minutes.
But within seconds, City were carved open again. It was apparent that our central midfield was super-featherweight as the Donny attackers were allowed to run at the City back four without much resistance. This time, Jon Oster found a bit of space to run at the defence and centre for Billy Sharp to tap home.
Three minutes later, City restored parity with a carbon copy of our first goal against the run of play.
Once again Campbell-Ryce was the architect down the left, teasing Chambers before picking out Orr at the back post for another tap in making it 2-2 with only 15 minutes gone!
Nicky Maynard was then unlucky to see his 20-yard dipping volley come back off the top of the bar but Donny continued to carve us open with consumate ease with Emmanuel-Thomas and Sharp causing all manor of problems with their movement and direct running.
Oster jinked past at statuesque City defence but couldn’t find a way past Gerken whilst James Coppinger failed to capitalise on a Fontaine slip when blazing over the top.
Eleven minutes from the break, the visitors pressure told. Once again the powder-puff midfield allowed a simple ball to go into Emmanuel-Thomas, who sent Sharp scampering through on goal to beat Gerken.
Emmanuel-Thomas then made it four just before the break when City failed to clear a Coppinger corner, allowing the lanky striker to beat Gerken with a low shot through a crowded box.
In fact Gerken denied the on-loan Arsenal youngster a first-half hat-trick before the break, denying him with his legs whilst Orr threw himself into a challenge to deny Sharp on the rebound.
There was to be no let up from the impressive Yorkshire side after the break though as Coppinger ran at the defence and sent a dangerous looking cross for Sharp, only for the unlucky Bradley Orr to turn into his own net for an inadvertant hat-trick on 61.
City had no ideas after that as the majority of the demoralised home support drifted away into the local boozers in their droves, myself included, but I’m told that Maynard was saw his fierce free-kick narrowly go wide of the post and that Gerken made a superb save to deny Donny sub Dean Shiels at the death.
CITY (4-4-2): Gerken, Orr, Carey, Nyatanga, Fontaine, Haynes (Sproule ’46), Johnson, Skuse, Campbell-Ryce (Hartley ’74), Maynard (Clarkson ’74), Iwelumo.
DONNY (4-4-2): Sullivan, Chambers, O’Connor, Hird, Roberts, Coppinger (Shiels ’77), Oster, Wilson (Spicer ’88), Hayter, Emmaneul-Thomas (Mutch ’88), Sharp.
REFEREE: Dave Phillips (Sussex)
Dean Gerken 7
Kept the score from further embarrassment with some alert saves. Was hopelessly exposed by those in front of him though.
Bradley Orr 7
Liam Fontiane 3
Had a torrid game at left-back as he was ran ragged by the lively wing play of James Coppinger. Was caught out of position on more than one occasion but then again, we all know he’s not a left-back!
Lewin Nyatanga 4
Backed off too many times and, like his partner Carey, was woefully let down by those in front of him.
Louis Carey 4
Tried in vain but couldn’t cope with Emmanuel-Thomas or Sharp. Simply could not handle them.
Danny Haynes 5
Struggled to make an impact down the right and didn’t hug the touchline like we know he can. Consequently subbed at the break.
Lee Johnson 3
How this lad gets a game is really beyond me. He didn’t put his foot in once in the first-half and his inclusion made it seem like we had ten-men when were defending. Dire.
Cole Skuse 6
Not at his best but tried his best to press the play and wasn’t afraid to put his foot in for the cause. Passing was a bit array but was doing the shift of two men in the midfield for most of the day.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce 5
Good going forward, provided decent width down the left and two assits but he looks an absolute liability when we don’t have the ball.
Nicky Maynard 6
Starved of service once again but harried their defence well, ran hard and was unlucky with a long ranger that hit the bar.
Chris Iwelumo 5
Was a threat in the air but not much else. Looked like he had half an eye on his return to Wolves today.
Ivan Sproule 5
Was a willing runner but had little impact on the second-half.
Can’t give him a rating as I had left the ground by the time he was introduced. Should’ve started though.
Like Hartley, I had long left the ground by the time he was introduced.
GARY JOHNSON – 2/10
Credit for going with wingers. We wouldn’t have scored the two goals without them but his decision to play his son again over Hartley left us with no bite in the middle whatsoever.
It wasn’t just that decision that led us to being overrun from the off and ultimately getting another hammering but it certainly set off a domino effect of self-combustion within the team.
He looks clueless and quite frankly, way out of depth.
SEAN O’DRISCOLL – 9/10
Very, very impressed. His side played some lovely stuff on the deck and tactically was spot on. Had his team pressing the ball all over the pitch when not in possession and breaking with pace and precision.
Probably the best footballing team I’ve seen down here in a long time and has enhanced his reputation for playing football the right way in my eyes. I would LOVE him to be in charge of us and end this bitter, dismal, boring drivel we have suffered for 18 months under Johnson’s megalomaniac reign.
Nothing New To Say…
Sadly, I can’t add anything to what I haven’t already said on here before. It was like groundhog day today and Donny really could’ve had 10 if it wasn’t for Gerken and a few poor decisions by their players.
From the off, there was no bite in central midfield which provided no protection to the back four. Consequently, we were exposed to wave after wave of attack as the visitors cut through us like a hot knife through butter.
We find ourselves 5 points off the relegation zone now and looking over our shoulders once more. The next 10 days will be crucial with trips to Palace, Reading and Plymouth all coming up. If we lose two of those we really will be up the creek without a paddle.
Of the two games Campbell-Ryce has started for us since his January move from Barnsley, we’ve conceded ELEVEN goals at the Gate. Whilst he’s certainly not wholly culpable for that is it a coincidence or not?
Gary Johnson has been quoted before as saying that youth team players at the big clubs can’t be tempted to come to Bristol on loan. Yet here was a young Arsenal lad playing up front today who has wound up in Doncaster and absolutely terrorised us! How does that work Gary or is that more of your bullshit?