Report: Birmingham City 2-1 Bristol City
Saturday, August 12th 2017
City were unable to press home their advantage after Bobby Reid’s first-minute goal was overturned at St Andrew’s.
Reid eventually turned the ball in from close range after Famara Diédhiou and Josh Brownhill had both hit the crossbar in the same move.
City played some delightful football in the first period but went in at the break on level terms after Craig Gardner equalised on the half-hour.
Reid had a glorious opportunity to score his second brace in successive Sky Bet Championship matches after the restart but fired wide, before Jacques Maghoma’s thunderous low shot decided the game 16 minutes from time.
Birmingham lost substitute Maikel Kieftenbeld to a straight red card soon after the winning goal, but held on despite Reid striking the post in the closing stages.
Lee Johnson reverted to the same side who blew away Barnsley in a whirlwind first half at Ashton Gate on the opening day of the season.
That meant the six players who came into the starting line-up and impressed in the five-star Carabao Cup display against Plymouth Argyle would have to wait their turn for another chance.
GOAL START FOR CITY
City were 3-0 up against Barnsley inside half an hour and ahead by the same scoreline after 19 minutes against the Pilgrims, so Birmingham may have been wary of a quick start from the visitors.
But Blues were powerless to prevent the trend continuing as Reid pounced for the easiest goal he’ll ever score within 60 seconds of the kick-off.
The Bristolian will be the first to pass on the credit to strike partner Diédhiou, as City’s record signing drifted in off the left flank and let fly with a sumptuous curling shot that smacked against the face of the crossbar from the corner of the penalty area.
Brownhill was quickest to react to the rebound and must have thought he’d scored until his goalbound follow-up deflected on to the underside of the bar, allowing the perfectly positioned Reid to tap in from virtually on the goal line
To their credit, the hosts responded well. Clayton Donaldson was eased out of the equation by Eros Pisano, prompting cries for a penalty ignored by referee Darren Bond.
Then Che Adams’ sharp strike on the turn was repelled by Frank Fielding, before Gardner’s low corner was met first time by Adams with a driven shot brilliantly headed off the line by City’s man on the post Joe Bryan.
But it was City playing the more fluid football, with Brownhill and Jamie Paterson vacating their touchlines to combine with Reid and Diédhiou, who were proving a real handful.
The Senegalese tried his luck twice more from distance, while Paterson spotted a gap and attempted to place the ball inside the far post but sliced his shot well wide.
Then Paterson’s square pass found Reid, who fed the ball through the Birmingham defence for Diédhiou, but the big man was just put under sufficient pressure to miss the target.
Another slick move between Paterson, Reid and Korey Smith only broke down at the last moment, but City’s good work was about to be undone.
BIRMINGHAM DRAW LEVEL
After a crunching tackle from Eros Pisano was greeted by roars of approval from the near-2,000 travelling contingent, the resulting long throw was only half-cleared and Gardner thumped the loose ball through the crowd and into the bottom corner to leave the unsighted Fielding no chance.
The equaliser did nothing to alter the pattern of play. City kept pouring forward in numbers; Smith’s backheel set up Diédhiou whose shot was blocked by Michael Morrison, before the Birmingham skipper had to be alert to turn behind Jens Hegeler’s cross.
Then another Hegeler ball was turned away only to Paterson, who struck the ball as hard as he could with his left foot from ten yards out, but somehow former Brighton & Hove Albion stopper David Stockdale kept it out.
Blues boss Harry Redknapp was not universally popular with the City supporters, having made no secret of his intentions to sign Bryan and Aden Flint.
By the hour mark the former Tottenham Hotspur manager had made all three substitutions, while Johnson was still yet to turn to his bench.
BIG CHANCE MISSED FOR CITY
Redknapp made a double change at the interval and later introduced former City loanee David Cotterill for the injured Adams.
But Birmingham were playing better now, causing Fielding to make important saves from Adams and Maghoma, before Reid spurned a glorious chance to put the visitors back in front.
It owed much to the persistence of Smith, who fought his way into the box and laid the ball to his right, where Reid just had to pick his spot but blasted wide of the far post with only Stockdale to beat.
For the first game this season Johnson had two wingers on his bench and opted to use both of them at the same time midway through the second period.
That meant Brownhill and Paterson were withdrawn, with Callum O’Dowda and Niclas Eliasson introduced – the latter making his City debut after receiving international clearance from the Swedish FA.
Eliasson, naturally left footed, positioned himself on the right flank where he could pit his wits against veteran full back Paul Robinson.
But in a strange irony it was Robinson, 38 years young, who was first to reach the byeline with an overlapping run and cross that almost set up Cheikh Ndoye.
MAGHOMA STRIKES GOLD FOR BLUES
Instead Maghoma would seize the moment in the 74th minute, drilling a low shot from 25 yards that flew into the bottom corner past Fielding’s outstretched left hand.
City had not quite managed to replicate their first-half dominance since the break, but could still find themselves hard done by to be behind on the balance of play.
But the balance of power was about to take another shift as the hosts were reduced to ten men with nine minutes left, as Bond produced an instant red card for Kieftenbeld’s overzealous tackle in midfield.
Eliasson twice came close to making a significant impact; first side-footing inches wide before latching on to Pisano’s cutting pass and keeping the ball alive to set up Reid, who hammered his shot against the near post from ten yards as fortune smiled on the home team.