TONY PULIS jokingly told Patrick Bamford that he is "soft" after Middlesbrough’s victory over Bristol City was blighted by an incident when the striker was left floored for more than nine minutes.

The incident which stemmed from an awkward fall when he went for a ball with City’s Aden Flint led to 11 minutes of added time being played at the end of the first half.

But Bamford was back with the players to celebrate three points after he was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure having been stretchered off shortly after the half hour mark.

Middlesbrough were level at that stage when George Friend had cancelled out Milan Djuric’s opener, and then Daniel Ayala struck the winner 22 minutes from time to lift Boro up to fifth.

Pulis said: "Patrick's in the dressing room now taking some stick off the players so he's fine.

"He went down either winded or he's hit his head but he's fine. I've not spoken to him or the physios, I've just hammered him for being soft. Only joking. I have hammered him though!

"First half at Sheffield United wasn't good enough, the application and desire was very poor, second half was fantastic. We've spoken about it, not getting uptight and that's what the players have to do embrace the challenge.

“They're fortunate lads, these are great games to play in and manage and that's the attitude they must have, roll your sleeves up, puff your chest out and work your socks off when you don't have the ball. We did that today.”

Bristol City are now four points off the play-off zone but manager Lee Johnson is not giving up.

Johnson said: “The boys worked hard, effort and energy was good but they had more quality than us particularly in midfield with the decisions they made.

"We've conceded two poor goals, we talked about being good in flow, but also in the clutch phase dealing with corners, set-pieces but that's where we failed.

"We've had a few decent chances, Bobby Reid had a decent opportunity to be clinical but we just couldn't find that second goal. We had Lloyd Kelly a 19 year-old academy graduate against the fastest player in world football (Traore) so we had to give him plenty of help.

"We've got to give it a right go to win the last three games, you've seen we're capable of doing that. We've got three winnable games if we're at it, but we have to have as many players at 8/9 from 10 to do that. We're learning in flight and have to take the lessons of games like this."