GARY Bowyer insists he has never doubted City’s fighting spirit after their dramatic return to winning ways.

Saturday’s comeback victory over Northampton stopped the rot after back-to-back league defeats.

Paudie O’Connor netted the late winner for City’s first come-from-behind success at Valley Parade since March 2017.

Bowyer praised his side’s battling qualities after trailing at half-time – but admits that he has not sensed them giving up at any point so far.

He said: “The character of this group of players is very good. We’ve seen that, even in the two defeats.

“We score in the last minute against Forest Green and it gets disallowed, although it’s still inconclusive. But they keep going.

“Then last week at Crewe, Paudie had his chance in the last minute.

“We’ve never seen them just lying down and accepting it. They are fighting all the way and trying to get into games.

“We need time with them, that’s for sure.

“We’ve got to up the minutes for Dylan (Connolly) and for Cookie (Callum Cooke) and we’ve got Harry Pritchard who was excellent to get through what he did.

“They are only going to get stronger. We’ve just got to give them that bit of patience and understanding.”

O’Connor scored his second goal in successive games to answer Bowyer’s demand for more goals from around the team.

The centre-half said: “The gaffer said during the week that we need to take our chances from set-pieces so it’s been up to us. Hopefully I’ll keep taking them.

“I should have scored before then – and I should have done better at Crewe at the back post late in the game.

“It was a great feeling, I won’t lie. It was kind of a blur when I wheeled away.”

Zeli Ismail’s cross-shot was turned in his own net by Northampton defender Michael Harriman and then O’Connor finished off the rebound after Kelvin Mellor’s header was saved.

O’Connor was confident City would come back – and praised the Valley Parade fans for playing their part in the recovery.

“I felt they were sucking the ball into the net,” he added. “The crowd roared us on.

“They’ve been unbelievable and thankfully we gave them something to be happy about.

“They stuck with us and credit to them. We definitely needed them in the second half when we were banging away trying to get that first goal.

“There could have been some underlying nerves with a few of the boys having lost two on the bounce. It’s only natural.

“Hopefully we can kick on now and put a run together.”