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Match Report


Posted Sat 19 Dec 15 at 16:45 PM

Report: City 1-1 Queens Park Rangers

Mark Perrow reports from Ashton Gate

Aaron Wilbraham’s 81st minute equaliser ensured City took something from a game they arguably did enough to win against promotion hopefuls QPR at Ashton Gate.

City were particularly dominant throughout a goalless first half, but it was the visitors who edged in front when Junior Hoilett’s low shot flashed past Frank Fielding to find the bottom corner.

The hosts could have been forgiven for feeling a sense of deja-vu at that point, but stuck to their task and deservedly drew level when Wilbraham slid in to finish off a fine team move.

Steve Cotterill reverted to his traditional 3-5-2 formation, making three changes from the midweek defeat at Derby County.

Luke Ayling returned in place of Liam Moore, while Kieran Agard missed out altogether meaning starts up front for both Wilbraham and Jonathan Kodjia.

The Frenchman had sat out the game at the iPro Stadium as an unused substitute – the first time he had been rested since his summer arrival, and looked suitably refreshed in the opening exchanges.

First he pounced on a loose touch from goalkeeper Robert Green, forcing himself wide in the process before Grant Hall recovered to intercept his attempted cross towards Wilbraham.

Then Kodjia’s intelligent flick around the corner released Luke Freeman, whose cross found neither City striker but did require a first save from Green to keep out his own team-mate Gabriele Angella.

The positive early signs from the home team were stifled slightly by a QPR defence that had kept three straight clean sheets before a 2-2 draw with then league leaders Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday night, but Cotterill’s men remained the dominant team.

Derrick Williams produced a searching cross seeking out Kodjia before City’s top scorer stung the palms of Green from 20 yards.

Marlon Pack then tried his luck from distance with a shot that veered away from goal before the hosts produced the best piece of football so far on 37 minutes.

This time Elliott Bennett reached the byeline and cleverly cut the ball back for Wilbraham, who laid it off for Freeman to strike firm and true but straight at Green.

Bennett found himself in similar territory when played in by a superb Ayling pass soon after, but again Rangers snuffed out the danger as the wing-back was unable to pick out a red shirt.

The Hoops have struggled for goals in the absence of top scorer Charlie Austin this season, who was missing again despite scoring both goals against Brighton, and his team-mates did not look like packing much of a punch without him.

It would take a scuffed clearance from Fielding to call him into action when Matt Phillips seized on the loose ball and found space to hit a powerful shot turned aside by the City keeper.

QPR were slowly showing signs of improvement since the interval and duly took the lead 11 minutes into the second period.

Hoilett picked up possessio and combined with young striker Sebastian Polter – preferred to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in place of Austin – with a clever one-two before beating Fielding with a first-time shot that whistled inside the near post from 20 yards. 

It was another case of City falling behind despite being the better side, but there was still life left in the hosts even after Flint blocked crucially from Polter and Fielding made an excellent fingertip save down to his right to keep out Phillips for a second time.

The most likely source of an equaliser was Kodjia, who created an opportunity for himself out of nothing with a brilliant turn to race into the box and force an important stop with his feet from Green, who stuck out a leg to maintain his team’s slim advantage.

Then Kodjia carefully watched a dropping ball on to his right foot and let fly with a dipping half-volley that Green uncomfortably helped behind for a corner.

Suddenly the visitors could play a counter-attacking game to really utilise the pace of Phillips and Hoilett on the wings.

City would have to survive a scare shortly before Wilbraham pounced to draw them level, as Hoilett raced down the left and tried his luck with a hopeful left-footed shot that rightly had Fielding worried as it clipped the crossbar on its way over.

But the hosts were still in the match and made the most of it with a very well-worked leveller nine minutes from time.

Luke Freeman started the move, finding Korey Smith in an unusually advanced position on the edge of the QPR box.

Smith was able to turn and feed substitute Joe Bryan on the left, whose low cross was begging for a touch and Wilbraham did the rest, sliding in at the back post to convert from close range.

Emmanuel-Thomas was immediately summoned by new Rangers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but there would be no moments of magic from the former Ashton Gate favourite as City finished the stronger.

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