Bristol City 1 Watford 1 HAVING just breezed back in through the door after four months away from Ashton Gate, Liam Fontaine is ideally-placed to assess the changes made by new manager Steve Cotterill . Sent out on loan to Yeovil by previous head coach Sean O'Driscoll following an alarming dip in form, the long-serving defender was handed an unexpected opportunity to impress his successor. Promoted to the starting line-up in place of the suspended Derrick Williams just three days after reporting back for training, Fontaine played a prominent role in helping League One City peg back Watford and earn a replay at Vicarage Road on Tuesday, January 14 . He then gave a revealing media interview in which he outlined the chief differences between the club he left in August and the one he found upon his return. Of course, results work wonders when it comes to lifting spirits and City are now unbeaten in four games and are building momentum for the first time in a long time. But there can be no underestimating the role played by Cotterill in galvanising players who were in the doldrums when he first arrived a month ago. Fontaine explained: "I've noticed a big difference in the atmosphere around the club since I've been back. "For a start, it felt as though the fans were right behind the team from the very outset. They were great and that is probably down to the new gaffer and his philosophy. "His whole persona is very different and his passion is rubbing off on other people. He is a very positive person, a good motivator and a good man manager. "He is very enthusiastic and he builds you up for games and training, which is good. He took a chance with me and now I want to repay him." Much has changed since City last played and beat Watford at Ashton Gate in January 2013 . The Robins fought a rear-guard action on that occasion, goals from Paul Anderson and Greg Cunningham delivering a 2-0 success, despite the Hornets dominating possession. Fast forward 12 months and here was a Bristol City side that shaded possession against a Championship outfit renowned for its ability to pass the ball. If O'Driscoll's influence was apparent, it is Cotterill's positive mental outlook that has given City's players cause to believe in themselves and made the crucial difference. Quite apart from the changes he has made in tactics and personnel, Cotterill has instilled an iron resolve and will to win that is at odds with much of what went before. Sean Murray's 84th-minute goal, delivered through a crowd of legs from the edge of the penalty area, represented rough justice for a City side that deserved parity at the very least. That the League One underdogs responded in a manner which enabled Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to equalise within 60 seconds, suggests character aplenty, a quality that will be required in the on-going fight against relegation between now and the end of the season. Staying in League One remains a priority, but there is no doubting City's commitment to the FA Cup. They could have thrown in the towel after falling behind so late in the game, instead of which they rolled up their sleeves and matched their Championship opponents blow for blow. Cotterill's substitutions were spot on and it was Wes Burns , introduced on the right flank 19 minutes from time, who gave the home side a way back into a contest they ought probably to have won. Highly-rated by Cotterill and deployed as an impact substitute in recent games, the Wales Under-21 international utilised his blistering pace to set-up the equaliser for Emmanuel-Thomas, who could hardly miss from six yards out. Whereas City would almost certainly have lost this game not so long ago, they will now head to Hertfordshire in the belief that they are capable of winning the replay. A real handful at Ashton Gate, Diego Fabbrini and Lewis McGugan will present a genuine threat to City's ambitions at Vicarage Road . But this City side is made of sterner stuff under Cotterill and it would be foolish to dismiss their chances of reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2007. Read Andy's stories by following a_stockhausen at www.thisisbristol.co.uk Match reaction WES Burns revealed how a conversation with manager Steve Cotterill inspired him to come off the bench and earn City a replay in a dramatic finale at Ashton Gate. Trailing to Sean Murray's 84th-minute strike, the Robins appeared to be heading out of the competition when substitute Burns surged on to a Marlon Pack through ball, beat Cristian Battocchio for pace and presented Jay Emmanuel-Thomas with the opportunity to equalise from close range. Having promoted the Wales Under-21 forward to the squad since taking over as boss a month ago, Cotterill challenged him to make a greater impact when coming on late in games. Burns certainly responded on this occasion, causing Watford's well-organised defence countless problems after replacing Scott Wagstaff in the 71st minute. "The gaffer always says when I get on to just run, run and run at the defenders," revealed Burns. "He wants me to commit players and make chances, which is what I do naturally. "When he sent me on before, he didn't think I'd made a big enough impact. "I told him I would do better next time and, fortunately, I managed to have an effect on the game. " Marlon Pack played a brilliant through ball to me and I just ran past their wing-back and dragged the ball back for Jay to ram it in from close range. "It was a brilliant move from start to finish and it was great to get an end product like that. "Going behind so late in the game was a real downer and I thought we responded well and showed a lot of character to come back like that." City will have another bite at the cherry when they travel to Vicarage Road on Tuesday, January 14 and Burns said: "I thought a replay was the least we deserved. "We played some really good stuff and could easily have won the game. "The gaffer did a lot of analysis on Watford in the week and we knew they would bank up and be very defensive, as you would expect an Italian team to do. "But with attacking players like Jay (Emmanuel-Thomas), Sam (Baldock) and Joe (Bryan) I always knew we'd get something out of the game." Watford manager Beppe Sannino felt a draw was a fair result and complemented City on their performance. Speaking through a translator, he said: "I am not surprised a League One team made things so difficult for us, because that is the strength of the English system. "I must compliment Bristol City for playing so well. "For a League One club to have such a passionate crowd is something you do not see in Italy . "I am disappointed we did not hold our lead and win the game, but I'm pleased we have a replay and are in the draw for the fourth round." Fan's view by Matthew Withers THE whole atmosphere at Ashton Gate has changed over the last couple of weeks and you can definitely sense a real 'feel-good factor' starting to return to the club. As in any sport winning breeds confidence and there is no doubt that the recent back-to-back victories in the league have led to a much happier camp on the playing field and this has transmitted itself to the stands. I have often said Bristol City fans will give total support when they can see the players putting in the effort and that has been the biggest difference for me since Steve Cotterill took over. Remember, the new manager has at the moment been unable to bring any of his own playing staff in, and so this is the same squad of players that under Sean O'Driscoll looked dead and buried and anyone who says different were not watching the games. The performance against Watford was a good one. We more than matched Championship opponents who failed in the play-offs last season and who have transformed into a ball playing football team under the previous management of Gianfranco Zola . From back to front, Steve Cotterill's team were solid and had Watford not had the excellent Lewis McGugan in their line-up, I actually think City would have won the game. The manager showed he is his own man by recalling Liam Fontaine to the starting line-up in the absence of the banned Derek Williams . This was Fontaine's first involvement in a City squad since August and a loan spell with Yeovil Town and he didn't let the manager down. I take my hat off to Fontaine, who has had a well-publicised hard time at the club for the past 12 months and he gave an assured EPB- E01-S3 performance and proved his worth as a member of the squad. When he defends and concentrates on the job in hand, he is very good and more than capable at this level, The other person I have to mention is Marvin Elliott . He was excellent and was deservedly named the man-of-the-match after the game. Watford fans must be fed up of seeing Elliott, who always seems to score or put in a great performance against the Hornets. He broke up a lot of the Watford attacks, but also showed for the ball a lot more and gave his defenders and fellow midfielders options. This was the difference in his performance, he wasn't standing still or following the ball. Like Fontaine, Elliott showed that he should be a huge player in League One and maybe the new manager can reinvigorate the two. Things are looking up and if City can get a win away at Vicarage Road , we could be rewarded with a trip to the Premiership moneybags Manchester City if they can overcome Blackburn . ? The number of months Liam Fontaine had been on loan at Yeovil
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