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Bristol City 2-1 Town - Match Report
Saturday, 13th Feb 2016 17:15

Two identikit first-half headers from Aden Flint saw Bristol City to a 2-1 victory over the Blues at Ashton Gate, sub Brett Pitman pulling one back for Town after the break against his old club.

Town boss Mick McCarthy handed Ben Pringle and Kevin Foley their Blues debuts in a 3-5-2 system with Foley and Jonas Knudsen wing-backs and Christophe Berra in the middle of the three central defenders. Kevin Bru took up Cole Skuse’s usual anchor role in midfield with the Bristolian one of those on Town’s lengthy injury list.

Chances were rare in the opening quarter of an hour, Pringle shot against a defender, then the on-loan Fulham man saw a cross from the left cut out.

Bristol City went close to going in front in the 17th minute when a Luke Freeman freekick was cleared to Korey Smith, who hit a shot through a crowd of players which took a deflection and Bartosz Bialkowski, last week’s man of the match at QPR, made a superb reaction save down to his left to keep it out.

But three minutes later, the Robins went in front when Flint headed the first goal of new manager Lee Johnson’s time as boss, across goal and into the net off the post from Luke Freeman’s corner on the right.

Freddie Sears shot wide after good work from Pringle and Sears as the Blues looked to get back on terms, then Bristol City skipper Smith curled a shot not far past the post.

There was a scare for the home side on 27 when keeper Richard O’Donnell’s clearance hit Maitland-Niles, but the on-loan Arsenal man was unable to profit from it.

The Blues switched their formation to 4-4-2 with Foley moving to the centre of midfield with Bru and skipper Luke Chambers to right-back. Pringle moved to the left with Maitland-Niles on the right.

On 33, with Town increasingly on top, Tommy Smith shot wide following a corner, but two minutes later the home side doubled their lead with Flint again the man on target, once again heading home a Freeman corner from the right.

The Blues were unable to pull a goal back before the break and the scoreline remained 2-0 at half-time. That both goals came from set pieces is unlikely to have gone down well with manager McCarthy.

Eight minutes after the restart, former Robin Brett Pitman replaced Ainsley Maitland-Niles, allowing Sears to move to right midfield. Moments later, Smith did well to block Kodjia’s shot from the right of the area.

Daryl Murphy chased a ball over the top in the 55th minute and hit a shot which O’Donnell did well to block. From the resultant corner, Chambers headed over, while being manhandled according to the Blues captain.

The Blues were beginning to threaten more and more and just after the hour mark Murphy forced O’Donnell into a superb save from a powerful header down to the keeper’s left from Sears’s cross from the right.

Pringle sent the ball back in from the left, Murphy nodded back across goal and Pitman flicked his header wide.

But the ex-Bristol City man wasn’t to be denied a goal for long. In the 62nd minute Murphy sent the Jersey-born striker away on goal towards the left and he held off his man before shooting low across O’Donnell and into the net to claim his 10th goal of the season.

As promised, Town’s reluctant super sub celebrated against his old club but without going over the top.

Luke Varney replaced promising debutant Pringle on 67, seconds before Freeman sent a dangerous ball across the Blues area.

The Robins were looking the more threatening side with Bialkowski making another impressive stop when he pushed sub Kieran Agard’s low shot past the post, before Bristol City skipper Smith screwed an effort across the face of goal.

Foley picked up the first yellow card of his time with Town for a somewhat cynical pullback on Agard as the home side broke following a corner.

On 76 Smith seemed certain to restore the home side’s two-goal lead when he was found in space in the area but superbly got across to challenge.

Soon after, Bialkowski made another excellent save down to his right from Nathan Baker’s header from Marlon Pack’s freekick, although referee Tony Harrington had already blown his whistle for a foul.

With the game now in its final 10 minutes, a Varney cross from the right deflected out to Smith, who hit a powerful shot which flew just wide of O’Donnell’s goal.

But it was Bristol City who were looking the more dangerous side, Joe Bryan failing to find the target with a volley and Bialkowski making another save from Smith, although with the flag having been raised.

Larsen Touré replaced Foley as the game moved into five minutes of injury time, then - after Christophe Berra had found the net from but with the referee having pulled back play - Smith went close to putting the Blues back on terms. The New Zealand international did well to get to Knudsen’s freekick from deep but headed just wide.

However, the home side saw the rest of the additional minutes out comfortably and referee Harrington’s whistle confirmed Town’s fourth successive away defeat in all competitions, three in the Championship.

Having gone two goals down in the first half, the Blues always faced an uphill struggle. Pitman’s goal gave them a lifeline but despite having chances they never really put the Robins under significant pressure having reduced the lead, while at the other end the again excellent Bialkowski remained the busier of the two keepers.

The result and Birmingham’s 0-0 draw at Rotherham sees the Blues drop to eighth behind the Midlanders on goal difference and now three points behind Derby, who are now sixth following their 1-0 home defeat to the MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday having climbed to fifth via their 4-0 victory over Brentford.

Bristol City: O’Donnell, Little, Flint, Baker, Golbourne, Pack, Smith (c), Tomlin (Agard 64), Bryan (Wagstaff 88), Freeman, Kodjia (Wilbraham 63). Subs: Fielding, Vyner, Pearce, Reid.

Town: Bialkowski, Foley (Touré 90), Chambers (c), Berra, Smith, Knudsen, Pringle (Varney 67), Bru, Maitland-Niles (Pitman 53), Sears, Murphy. Subs: Henly, Kenlock, Digby, Tabb. Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland). Att: 15,736 (Town: 1,443).

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Dissboyitfc added 17:16 - Feb 13
play-offs cant see it if we continue playing like this

righty added 17:17 - Feb 13
McCarthy Evans OUT

NoCanariesAllowed added 17:18 - Feb 13
Fourth straight defeat I've attended. Losing the will to bother now. Put simply, the team I've seen in those last four games doesn't deserve a top six spot. No point worrying about it, they simply don't deserve it.

We've utterly lost the midfield battle to a team that has spent most of the season staring League One in the face. I love Luke Chambers but I am getting sick to death of seeing almost every touch of his resulting in him giving the ball away, getting blocked for a throw or just pumping it down the line and out of play. I don't know what we were playing at giving those two set piece goals away (could hardly see anyway from so low down this afternoon) yet we still persisted giving away cheap corner after corner and wete lucky to keep getting away with it after those first two.

I ain't a Mick outer, or indeed an Evans outer. But I am rapidly losing any sense of this being 'The Year'. And however you look at it compared with last season, this feeling is a big step back from last year - as indeed it has felt all season long.

tallguy6767 added 17:19 - Feb 13
Come on people Bristol City are a good side !!!!!

pinewoodblueboy added 17:21 - Feb 13
Sounded poor yet again & got what we deserved, nowt. We are simply not good enough. Feel for the away following who turned up in good numbers.

dagenhamtown added 17:21 - Feb 13
shambolic embarrasing disgraceful.we dont need to strengthen our squad said macarthey unreal.

Evans u ought to be ashamed that u did not once again put hands in your pocket i hope season tickets drop and attendences and u are to can only do what he can do with such a tight budget limited squad and tight non ambitious chairman.gutted.

prebsa added 17:23 - Feb 13
Another poor display where we got exactly what we deserved. Only watched the game on a stream today but the commentator summed up the game perfectly. I quote "City look like the team pushing for promotion here and ipswich well they look like the relegation strugglers". He was right our tactics set out by kick once again were awful and got us no where.

Positives from today I thought Pringle looked quite good with the ball and actually looked to pass and move. I'm sure Mick will have that out of him shortly so no worries about seeing that again. Pitman again proving why he is our best finished but has to settle for the bench!

Overall though we were poor and just have no chance of getting playoffs while we continue to play like this. No ambition in January mixed with injures is leaving us very short of any playoff place. We will not go up ever with Mick at the helm. He saved us from league 1 and has performed a mirical to get us up the table but that's all he is good for. He will never get us promoted with the hoof balls he forces into players. If Evans is not going to invest then he needs to bugger off out of our club because we will continue to see no investment while he is here! People are going to start to get very fed up with this so something has to change!

theman added 17:23 - Feb 13
Poor performance, spent the whole game pumping aimless balls forward with Murphy failing to win most. Couldn't really see what we were trying to achieve. All MM did was his customary tactic when losing of putting as many strikers on the pitch as he can. Not sure where we're going with it at the moment

TheSelkirk added 17:25 - Feb 13
Being an Ipswich Town supporter is like being in bed with Mila Kunis with a padlock on your Y-fronts

iaintaylorx added 17:25 - Feb 13
not even suprised. that bench is the weakest i have ever seen and how MM thought that the team was "strong in depth" is embarrassing. big changes need to be made!!

Geoff added 17:27 - Feb 13
Current regime must go simply not good enough, why are every other club more ambitious then us. Season tickets will be down as more fans are seeing the light.I am lucky enough to have seen Town at wembley in the premier league and challenging for top place in the seventies and early eighties also in europe winning the uefa cup. I really feel sorry for the young fans who will see none of this for another 14 years under this regime it is time we stand up and try to get this regime changed.

blueboy1981 added 17:27 - Feb 13
Typical example of what happens when the objective from the start is to preserve the starting 'point' - in other words, yet another wasted first half.

We never start with the intention of winning the game - we start to play when we are behind - again today.

Nothing will ever change under McCarthy and Connor - the rest of their careers are now secured, and that is all that really matters to them - and of course, we stay in the Championship.

Russell Osman said before the game that we should leave the blocks as if we intended to win the game, and thus create the unexpected. We didn't do that - and lost again.

Same shower - different day. And thank heavens for Bart.

bluey123 added 17:28 - Feb 13
Look at transfer dealings since Evans took over he has spent around 20 m in the past he has taken in well over that amount so what has he done.
This is a game for him just no ambition at all all he does is service the debt he doesn't reduce it so I simply can't understand why supporters feel he is good for this club
EVANS OUT and McCarthy OUT

runaround added 17:28 - Feb 13
With a number of players unavailable & against a team with new manager this was always going to be very difficult but it's still another disappointing result. The last month has been very poor for ITFC with the clubs decision not to strengthen in January being put under increasing scrutiny with poor results, performances & devastating injuries. Bizarrely thanks to Derby's amusing collapse we still have a chance of play offs but this is decreasing with every match. We need a run of wins but that looks highly unlikely. A real shame

TractorBoy666 added 17:29 - Feb 13
I've seen a few people blaming the loss down to injuries, but maybe we should have done correct thing in January or indeed the summer and brought in better back up instead of the likes of Foley, Digby, Toure etc. The players we thought could be decent back ups such as Henshall and Parr we've let go and haven't replaced these decent back up players. Yet again we have failed to add to the squad for the final push for last half of the season, and yet again are looking to downwards rather than upwards. An attacking midfielder is too much to ask for with MM in charge and therefore we have to rely on lumping the ball up field which most teams have worked out by now.

Sheffield Wednesday are a perfect example of spending a bit of money while in a good position in the table, and they now seem to be going in the right direction. I'm unsure as to how much longer I can put up with no money being available for better additions, the fans can only do so much and carry on supporting the team that are out there in play in which was another brilliant following. Sadly, the results doesn't match that support.

Keaneish added 17:31 - Feb 13
Up until 6pm Friday 11th September, Mick and Terry had done a good job for this club. Ever since then it's been diabolical. I'd happily have taken a point today in the typical Mick fashion given our squad problems. Had no desire to traipse to Ashton Gate after Loftus Road last week but one point i want to make is the predictability of Mick at the moment.

I said on another thread that he went with a 3-5-2 to match them as they stretched us last time at PR but if that wasn't working he'd resort to type and change to a 4-4-2. It's so boring i can call it hundreds of miles away from the game. Mick's run out of ideas, it's as simple as that and Evans has made another howler extending their contracts i'm afraid.

Flint was the danger man from set-pieces last season for Bristol City and he was at PR. And, what have we learnt....?

Hands-up if you're relishing the prospect of Hull on Tuesday...?

essex57 added 17:31 - Feb 13
Sack Mccarthy get a new manager in get relegated remember there is 2 sides to every coin

Chicago_Blue added 17:32 - Feb 13
Where did the Mings money go?! We were told it was going to be reinvested into the team - but just on wages? Where's the rest? Did Evans claw some of his money back from it? I think we're entitled to know!!!

vanmunt added 17:32 - Feb 13
Looking at the positives from today being that I am home from the game already and that's about it. Barts once again keeping the score respectable but I expect him to be dropped soon. As for the subs (pitman the exception) MM would have been better off rolling on an orange instead of varney. Playoffs, there is more chance of me going on a date with Jennifer Lawrence.

blueboy1981 added 17:35 - Feb 13
........ another intelligent post from essex57 ..... !!!

GFH added 17:35 - Feb 13
Going nowhere fast.

bluefeast added 17:35 - Feb 13
For those who still believe in Mm , i ask you to consider his comments about our performances and our squad ,our squad is weaker this season than last ,the reason for that is all the players playing out of position ,those that were forced out have not been replaced ,our style of play saps energy and we look jaded and tired without tru direction ,chambers berra murphy form all along way off last season , its sad but MM is actually just where jewell was before he left ,thats clueless. Pick players on merit then half our side would not be in the starting 11 ,and our brightest and most valuable player is now a defensibe midfield player ,its all so wrong. Go mick .

jas0999 added 17:35 - Feb 13
An absolute disgrace. Let's hope we don't hear any more spin from anyone at the club in regards to having a strong squad and not needing to spend in January. It's all nonsense because anyone can see from the state of that bench today that we desperately needed to strengthen. Our first eleven are also faltering quickly. We can't expect to gain promotion without significant investment in the playing squad. I'm at the stage where both MM AND ME need to take full and frank responsibility. I mean honestly, we released two more players than we signed in the January window. We ended up WEAKER.

This injury crisis is also a red herring in my opinion. We knew in January about Gerken. McGoldrick and Bishop and should have planned accordingly. The only recent injuries have been to Fraser, Skuse and Coke; the latter a bit player and frankly only league one class at best. Yes the other two are big misses, but I would expect a promotion chasing club to be able to have a deep enough squad, with the necessary quality to respond to just two further injuries. We don't and that's what disappoints.

This is so frustrating, because just as last season we had an excellent chance of promotion, yet our unambitious owner made exactly the same mistake this year and offered nothing in January. MM is working with a very small budget, only enough to sign the likes of Coke, Toure, a Polish fella and Digby. Until we operate with a promotion chasing budget - rather than a lower league one budget - then we are going nowhere. This season could peter out and if things don't change, I can see us struggling next season.

The time has come for Evans to explain the situation. No spin. No money spent on wages. No Mings money spent on running of the club. The playing staff is the product. Evans charges a premium price. He is offering very little. Big changes required moving forward.

jpring89 added 17:36 - Feb 13
Were going back to the dark days

cornishblu added 17:37 - Feb 13
Absolutely dreadful yet still some fans around me are happy....astonishing.....never ever seem such an abject performance from our captain...dis interested dreadful passing no passion....has he at last got fed up with playing out of position....and time for mick to go...if he seriously cant find anyone better than what we have got then he truely demonstrates he hasn't got a clue...thank you for getting uscsafe but one trick mick has now more than ever before been found wanting...progress???... We ate now going backwards COYB

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