Bristol City 2-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 3rd Dec 2016 17:13
A controversial Lee Tomlin penalty and a goal of the season contender from Luke Freeman saw Bristol City to a 2-0 victory over the Blues at Ashton Gate. Tomlin converted from the spot after Bartosz Bialkowski had been adjudged to have fouled Tammy Abraham in the 31st minute, then Freeman smashed home a volley on 72 to seal the three points with David McGoldrick having come closest for Town when he hit the post earlier in the second half.
Mick McCarthy named an unchanged side on Thursday with the only switch in the matchday 18 Myles Kenlock replacing Teddy Bishop, who had picked up a knock, among the subs.
Cole Skuse was facing his hometown club, who he was with for 17 years until joining the Blues in 2013, for the first time back at Ashton Gate and received a warm ovation from his old fans when his name was read out.
Robins boss Lee Johnson made five changes from the starting XI which lost 2-1 at Reading last week with Freeman, Adam Matthews, Scott Golbourne, Korey Smith and Aaron Wilbraham, who wore the armband, coming into the side for Joe Bryan, who was suspended, Mark Little, Gary O’Neil, Jamie Paterson and Bobby Reid with the latter trio on the bench.
Kick-off was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of the Chapecoense players, who died in the Colombian air disaster earlier in the week, while both sides wore black armbands.
The home side had all the ball in the opening minutes against a Town team wearing their all white away strip.
The game’s first chance came in the fourth minute when Freeman crossed from the right and found Wilbraham but the former Norwich striker shot well over. The Robins captain claimed the ball had struck a defender but referee Stuart Attwell awarded a goalkick.
Wilbraham’s frustration regarding that decision appeared to boil over in the seventh minute when he lunged in on Christophe Berra well after the ball had gone with what looked to be two feet. While an angry Berra received attention, Wilbraham was probably fortunate to see only a yellow card, despite protestations at his innocence.
Town first threatened in the 16th minute when Adam Webster found Tom Lawrence out on the left with a cross-field ball. The on-loan Leicester man cut in but Matthews slid in to scramble the ball behind off the Town player.
McGoldrick was becoming increasingly influential and in the 20th minute the Blues striker cut in from the right past two defenders and hit a shot which deflected through to home keeper Frank Fielding, just too far in front of Luke Varney.
Having started slowly Town had got on top but without creating a significant opportunity. On 17 Lawrence curled a shot well over from 25 yards after Varney had seen an effort from the edge of the area blocked.
However, the home side went in front in the 31st minute via a contentious penalty. On-loan Chelsea striker Abraham chased a flicked-on diagonal ball which looked to be running through to Bialkowski to the right of goal and stabbed it away and out of play ahead of the keeper before going to ground.
Referee Attwell initially appeared not to be interested in the England U21 international’s protests before eventually pointing to the spot, much to the anger of the Town players. Whether there was contact or otherwise it looked very soft and a penalty very much won rather than conceded, although Bialkowki will feel he ought to have dealt with the situation.
Tomlin took the spotkick and slammed it into the corner past the Town keeper, who wasn’t too far away from reaching it down to his right.
The momentum was back with the Robins and they came close to a second in the 35th minute when Tomlin cut in from the left and hit a shot which Webster diverted over the bar.
Aden Flint, scorer of two headers from corners in last season’s corresponding fixture, claimed he had been hauled down as the first of several flag-kicks came on from the left a minute later but referee Atwell waved away his appeals.
Former Peterborough and Middlesbrough man Tomlin was booked soon afterwards for clipping Lawrence midway inside the Bristol City half.
Grant Ward hit a low strike wide from distance on 43, then as half-time approached Abraham headed over from a Scott Golbourne cross from the left.
After a quiet start the Blues had been getting on top when Bristol City were awarded the penalty and Tomlin netted their first goal in a first half in 11 games.
Having gone behind Town struggled to impose themselves on the game with Robins looking more likely to add to their lead than the Blues were to equalise with home keeper Fielding never seriously tested.
Town began the second period on the front foot and went within a whisker of levelling in the 55th minute.
After neat work on the right involving Ward and McGoldrick, Skuse played in the Town number 10 on the right of the area, from where he hit a shot across Fielding, which the keeper managed to tip on to the outside of his post.
The Blues continued to take the game to the home side but without creating a further chance.
Shots at goal had also been rare at the other end, although on 63 Icelander Hordur Magnusson hit a 25-yard freekick off the wall and wide.
In the 66th minute, with the Robins again starting to look the more dangerous team, Town made two changes with Varney and Ward making way for Leon Best and Freddie Sears.
Soon after the switch Freeman headed Magnusson’s cross not too far wide for the home side, then on 69 Sears created an opening for the Blues when he fed Jonas Knudsen overlapping to his left inside the area but the Dane wildly overhit his cross.
Bristol City doubled their lead in the 73rd minute via a brilliant Freeman strike. Knudsen headed out a freekick from the right and the former Arsenal and Stevenage man hammered a perfect volley past Bialkowski to the keeper’s right from just over 20 yards.
Town immediately switched Lawrence for Jonny Williams as they went about chasing what now looked to be a lost cause.
The Robins weren’t too far away from a third soon afterwards when Freeman cut the ball back from the right and Wilbraham left it for Abraham, but his low strike was saved down to his right by Bialkowski.
Tomlin shot wide for the Robins, then as the game moved into its final scheduled 10 minutes McGoldrick similarly missed the target for Town. Moments later Freeman was replaced by Josh Brownhill.
Despite a comeback looking very unlikely, the Blues continued to look for openings and on 85 Sears was found in the area and hit a low shot on the turn which was too close to Fielding.
Town continued to huff and puff in the closing minutes but without creating another chance.
The Blues had started the second half brightly but aside from McGoldrick’s effort against the post had created little.
The Robins had started to look more dangerous prior to their goal, although there had been little in the game and Town were still in it at that stage, but Freeman’s excellent strike meant they had a mountain to climb.
The Blues, who still haven’t won back-to-back games this season, drop to 16th ahead of next week’s home game against Cardiff City.
Bristol City: Fielding, Matthews, Flint, Magnusson, Golbourne, Freeman (Brownhill 82), Pack, Smith (O’Neil 90), Tomlin (Reid 86), Wilbraham (c), Abraham. Unused: Lucic, Moore, Paterson, Engvall.
Town: Bialkowski, Chambers (c), Webster, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Ward (Sears 67), Lawrence (Williams 74), Varney (Best 67), McGoldrick. Unused: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Bru. Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire). Att: 18,309 (Town: 1,115).
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