Report: Bristol City 1-1 Aston Villa
Friday, August 25th 2017
A cruel deflection robbed City of three points in front of the Sky cameras under the Friday night lights of Ashton Gate.
A closely-fought contest was hanging in the balance until Jamie Paterson smashed home a loose ball in a crowded penalty area on the hour.
But the lead would last only four minutes as Josh Onomah’s speculative shot from distance looped up off the unfortunate Marlon Pack and over the head of the stranded Frank Fielding in the City goal.
Lee Johnson resisted the urge to reward any of the nine players who came into his side and produced a sterling display to send Premier League Watford crashing out of the Carabao Cup.
Instead he reverted to the team who had started the last two league games against Brentford and Millwall.
It was a rejuvenated Villa, scorers of eight goals in their last two matches, who created the first chance as Andre Green stepped inside and powered a shot that forced Fielding into a palm-stinging save.
CITY UP THE TEMPO
City gradually grew into the game and began to take control around the quarter-hour mark.
First Paterson tested Sam Johnstone from distance, while Joe Bryan’s devilish cross was crucially cleared by Neil Taylor before Bobby Reid claimed a penalty under pressure from defensive man mountain Chris Samba.
City were in the ascendancy but it was a game lacking clear-cut opportunities.
Famara Diédhiou made the most of a deep Paterson cross, keeping the ball alive and forcing Johnstone to parry his shot from an acute angle.
But it was the visitors who ended a tense first half on top.
VISITORS THREATEN BEFORE THE INTERVAL
Villa had a man over when Conor Hourihane laid the ball to his right for Ahmed Elmohamady, but Fielding raced from his line and cut down the angle to make a sharp save.
Hourihane, Johnson’s captain in his time at Barnsley, scored a hat-trick last weekend and set his sights on adding to his tally with a vicious left-footed drive bravely blocked by Villa old boy Nathan Baker, before Fielding smothered a dangerous low cross from Elmohamady.
Visiting boss Steve Bruce made a half-time change, introducing James Bree for Samba as James Chester moved inside to partner John Terry.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with chances few and far between. Onomah was denied at his near post by Fielding, but Ashton Gate did not come to life until shortly before City made the breakthrough.
ASHTON GATE ERUPTS
Villa’s away following in excess of 3,000 certainly added to a lively atmosphere that really came to the boil when Reid was tripped right on the edge of the penalty area.
Pack’s low free kick may have been blocked but still caused problems as Villa struggled to clear their lines.
Bailey Wright’s follow-up also hit a defender inside a crowded box, but Paterson was sharp enough to find the bottom corner with a left-footed shot on the turn from eight yards.
Noise levels hit the roof as the bumper crowd erupted, but their joy was short-lived.
SLICE OF LUCK REPRIEVES VILLA
Back came Villa four minutes later. Elmohamady raided down the right only to be dispossessed by Bryan, but the ball ran loose for Onomah to strike.
Still the Tottenham Hotspur loanee had plenty to do 25 yards from goal, but in trying to block the shot Pack inadvertently deflected the ball up and over the stranded Fielding.
It was tough on City, who had worked hard to establish their lead.
It would take an important block to preserve parity as Hourihane found space in the box, before City were the width of the goal frame from going back in front, as Paterson’s first-time pass released Eros Pisano, whose miss-hit cross looked to be floating in only to strike the inside of the post.
Johnson threw on Cauley Woodrow, Callum O’Dowda and Niclas Eliasson – the Swede for his home debut – in search of victory.
But four added minutes passed without incident and City would have to settle for a third successive league draw.