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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 30 Apr 16 at 16:45 PM

Report: City 4-0 Huddersfield Town

Mark Perrow reports from Ashton Gate

City signed off at Ashton Gate for another year with an emphatic victory over Huddersfield Town.

A game lacking the importance of previous matches was played at a slower pace until Jonathan Kodjia fired home on the stroke of half-time to open the floodgates.

Kodjia’s 20th goal of the season – possibly his best – followed shortly after Joe Bryan scored for the first time in eight months to make the game safe.

But the best was still to come, as Lee Tomlin added a quite magnificent fourth with a moment of brilliance to add the icing on the cake. 

Lee Johnson delivered on his promise to experiment with City’s Sky Bet Championship status already secured.

The head coach opted for a total of five changes – three in defence and two in attack – as Luke Ayling, Alex Pearce, Derrick Williams, Kieran Agard and Kodjia replaced Adam Matthews (hamstring), Aden Flint (knee), Korey Smith (suspended), Nathan Baker and Aaron Wilbraham.

Baker and Wilbraham were joined on the bench by Academy graduates Max O’Leary, Zak Vyner and George Dowling – a 17-year-old midfielder featuring in a matchday squad for the first time.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, made only one alteration and were fielding their strongest possible line-up, reflected by a bright start from the fluorescent-shirted visitors.

City needed referee Frederick Graham to come to their aid, inadvertently blocking the run of Dean Whitehead from a quickly-taken corner, before top scorer Nahki Wells tested Richard O’Donnell with a sharp shot on the turn, albeit forcing a straightforward save.

But the hosts soon came into the contest and found their rhythm. Bobby Reid fired over in search of his third goal in three consecutive home matches, before Agard was guilty of not laying the ball off for Tomlin, instead attempting to swivel and shoot himself without success.

Huddersfield’s Joe Lolley then came close with a dipping volley just past the post, before Kodjia’s attempt to find Tomlin inside the box turned into a makeshift one-two with a Town defender, eventually shooting wide via a deflection.

There were half-chances for City from set-pieces, too. But the usual suspects, Flint and Wilbraham, were conspicuous by their absence, and dead-ball expert Luke Freeman only a substitute.

Tomlin struck the top of the wall from 25 yards, before Bryan’s teasing delivery was just fractionally too high for Agard.

An improving City performance produced the best move of the first half two minutes before the interval.

The lively Reid combined with Kodjia and Ayling before teeing up Tomlin, whose left-footed shot was firmly struck along the turf but zipped inches wide.

But there was still time for Johnson’s men to take the lead before the fourth official raised his board to signal one additional minute.

Bryan picked up a pocket of space in the inside left position and quickly released the galloping Kodjia, who had pulled out to the left flank.

The Frenchman made no mistake as he raced through on goal, drilling a low shot into the net via the legs of Huddersfield keeper Jed Steer to chalk up goal number 19 of his debut season.

The Terriers’ head coach, David Wagner, who was best man at Jurgen Klopp’s wedding, responded with a double change at the break, as two of his traditionally most dangerous attacking players were withdrawn.

The German introduced Karim Matmour and Jamie Paterson for Rajiv Van La Parra and Nahki Wells, and it was Matmour who made an immediate impact when his low cross from the byeline had to be smuggled to safety by Marlon Pack.

Pack was operating at the base of a midfield diamond and making a habit of mopping things up, but embarked on a more adventurous mission on the hour – a lung-busting run down the right followed by a deep cross headed back across goal by Kodjia but not quite collected by Agard.

City then had some last-ditch defending to do, proving they were not just going through the motions, as the new-look centre-back partnership of Pearce and Williams threw their bodies on the line, resulting in treatment for the latter.

But no sooner had the game restarted than City were doubling their lead, as Bryan ended his personal goal drought with a low drive from a tricky angle that flew through the legs of Steer.

Now the game would really open up and City were keen to take advantage. Kodjia was hunting goal number 20, going eye to eye with Steer who saved with his foot, before Reid struck the rebound against the stricken Agard and fired a second shot against the crossbar.

Kodjia then resisted the urge to find Agard after cutting inside having again drifted out to the left, instead rifling a low shot from 20 yards that beat Steer down past his left hand – perhaps the best of his City collection to date.

It was time for more changes and Johnson soon invited Vyner and Freeman to join in the fun along with Dowling, making his senior debut to rapturous applause.

Party time was breaking out in BS3 and Tomlin was the fashionably late arrival.

Unusually quiet for the most part, City’s maverick number nine delightfully disguised a shot of his own in teeing up Kodjia for a hat-trick chance that the striker lifted over the bar in attempting a crowd-pleasing lob from close range.

But Tomlin’s big moment was still to come after Scott Golbourne fed the ball into him on the edge of the box. With a defender quick to close him down, he flicked the ball up over his opponent with his right foot and dispatched a quite brilliant half-volley into the top corner with his left.

Two simple touches. One special talent.

It was a fine way to sign off proceedings and symbolic of the improvement City have made throughout the campaign.

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