LIAM Manning admitted a cool exterior belied a racing heartbeat after his first home game as Bristol City head coach produced a 3-2 Championship victory from a five-goal thriller.

The Robins looked on course for a comfortable win when Taylor Gardner-Hickman curled a superb first goal for the club after 37 minutes and Tommy Conway doubled the advantage with a penalty just before the break after Matty James had been fouled.

But Boro roared back to level by the 52nd minute through Zak Vyner’s headed own goal and a Matt Crooks shot before Mark Sykes volleyed home a 67th-minute winner from an acute angle.

Manning punched the air at the final whistle, having taken four points from his first two games as successor to Nigel Pearson.

“That was nice and relaxing,” he joked after being asked to evaluate his first game in charge at Ashton Gate.

“There are less stressful ways to spend a Saturday afternoon and my heart is still racing. But I consider myself in a privileged position as head coach of a great club.

“Overall I’m delighted. The second half didn’t start as we had planned, but we will learn from that and the way the players defended the lead after going 3-2 up was fantastic.

“We worked in training on four of the lads defending against eight attackers and it was a bit like that in the closing stages when every player had to show great commitment.

“The most positive sign was the number of quality chances we created against a very good side. The crowd played their part and I felt very proud to be on the touchline at Ashton Gate in charge of a Bristol City team.

"You never stop learning in this game and if you think you know it all, you shouldn’t be involved.

"I have great faith in the squad I have inherited and we have a lot of young players who will improve with age and experience.”

Boro boss Michael Carrick sent his side out early for the second half, but made it clear there were no teacups thrown during the interval.

He said: “I just told the players to believe in what they are good at. Do what they do best. In the second half we were more like our usual selves.

“We controlled the game for long periods so I’m very disappointed to be going home with nothing.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty because our player got a touch on the ball, but that’s football.

“We paid for a messy five minutes in the first half and one in the second. Other than that, we played some good stuff.

"When those little moments catch you out, you can find yourselves with too much to do.

“The boys were good chasing the game in the second half and then one lapse has cost us.

“All their goals came from isolated incidents. First a shot into the top corner no goalkeeper would have saved, then a penalty and then a corner.

“We didn’t manage the minutes leading up to half-time well enough. But the players responded really well after the break and we looked the only team likely to win.

“Bristol City were well organised and asked questions of us. I wish Liam all the best in his new job.”