Mark Perrow reports from Ashton Gate
City eased through to the Capital One Cup third round for the first time in a decade as an impressive display proved too much for an experimental Crystal Palace side.
The Premier League outfit hardly tested debutant Elliot Parish in the City goal, while second-half goals from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Scott Wagstaff made a mockery of the two-division gap between the teams, and were the least the Robins deserved.
Owen Garvan replied with a stunning late consolation, but there was barely time to restart before referee Iain Williamson confirmed City’s progression.
Parish’s first appearance in a competitive fixture signalled the only change from Sean O’Driscoll’s line-up held to a 2-2 draw after leading twice at MK Dons last time out.
Palace, meanwhile, named an entirely new team, with all 11 starters from their Premier League outing at Stoke not even named among the substitutes.
And City’s more settled unit put the visitors under pressure right from the very first minute, forcing a corner from which a training ground routine threatened to unlock the Eagles.
Joe Bryan’s unusual signal prompted the winger to pull his kick back to the penalty spot, catching out the Palace backline while Emmanuel-Thomas stepped on to it and drilled a powerful low shot goalwards, only for a black shirt to block his effort on the line with goalkeeper Neil Alexander beaten.
City’s positive start continued as Alexander vacated his line to punch a high ball away from Sam Baldock but only as far as Wagstaff, whose looping header back over the Scotsman just dropped wide.
Next to go close was Emmanuel-Thomas for the second time, cutting inside from the left and letting fly on his weaker right foot with a clean strike only narrowly off target down by Alexander’s right-hand post.
At the other end, Aden Flint threw a lazy leg at a Stephen Dobbie cross and looked back in horror as the ball looped towards his own goal, but Parish was on hand to make his first save of the night.
City’s stranglehold on proceedings continued after the interval, but clear chances remained few and far between until Emmanuel-Thomas ruthlessly dispatched the opener just shy of the hour mark.
Running at the Palace defence, the unpredictable forward looked for striker partner Baldock. But as the momentum of the attack seemed to have stalled, Baldock’s return pass was collected by Emmanuel-Thomas, who cut inside the last defender and fired a stunning right-foot shot into the far corner.
It was just reward for an impressive team performance. A rare Palace foray culminated in a wild attempt from substitute Kwesi Appiah, before City struck the killer second.
Again Emmanuel-Thomas was involved. Breaking free down the left, he slowed the tempo and introduced Bobby Reid, whose square pass across the box picked out Wagstaff before the winger teed himself up for a neatly taken half-volley into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Jonathan Williams responded with Palace’s best effort – a speculative strike from distance that had Parish scuttling to his left as a deflection carried the ball narrowly wide.
Meanwhile, with the impressive Bryan departed along with Baldock and Derrick Williams, one of the replacements, Marlon Harewood, set about making his first real impression in a City shirt – unleashing an excellent shot from distance which had to be turned aside for a corner by Alexander.
Palace substitute Kyle De Silva at last called Parish into action in the closing stages, but it was no more than a routine stop for the fresh-faced shot-stopper, who seemed destined for a clean sheet until Garvan’s dipping shot halved the margin of victory.