- English Football League - Championship
- Tuesday, April 10th 2018
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 3-1 Birmingham City
Tuesday, April 10th 2018
City have kept their play-off hopes alive thanks to a comfortable 3-1 home win over Birmingham City.
A Marlon Pack free kick, Bobby Reid’s 20th goal of the season and Matty Taylor’s late strike came on a night where City showed an attacking masterclass, to answer their critics of late.
Pack and Reid had fired City into a 2-0 lead with fewer than 30 minutes on the clock, before the Blues halved the deficit through Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Both asides had chances to add to their tallies with the crossbar denying Reid before substitute Taylor marked his first appearance since January with the fourth goal of the evening.
A little over 20,000 packed out a flood-lit Ashton Gate for the Robins’ final scheduled evening game of the campaign.
And it was an historic victory for City, who had not beaten a Birmingham City side since November 2nd 1993.
Lee Johnson made three changes to the starting XI which travelled to Millwall just days earlier, with Eros Pisano, Callum O'Dowda and Jamie Paterson all rested on the bench. Lloyd Kelly earned another start in defence, with Famara Diédhiou and Milan Djuric joining the City attack. Skipper Bailey Wright missed out after picking up a thigh injury.
ON THE FRONT FOOT
City looked comfortable early on, happy to take their time with Birmingham City barely pressing the players in red.
But the Blues threatened on the counter and when a City attack fizzled out, in-form striker Jutkiewicz prodded header narrowly wide of goal from a Wes Harding cross.
However, City looked more attacking under the lights, compared to the display in London just days earlier, and the crowd were on their feet when Josh Brownhill intercepted Jota’s pass. After neat play the ball found its way left to Kelly, whose deep cross had to be nervously nodded out for a City corner.
CITY DRAW FIRST BLOOD
And City found the back of the net for the first time since Good Friday not long after; Reid was tripped on the turn, 25 yards from the net and up stepped Pack in a central position as his resulting free kick rifled beyond David Stockdale in the Blues goal.
The visitors, fighting the drop this season, searched for an equaliser but were twice thwarted by the fantastic Frank Fielding. He used his legs to deny Jeremie Boga, before his quick reactions to tip away Jutkiewicz’s low shot came moments later. Boga looked odds-on to score with the close-range follow up but he poked his effort wide.
The Robins were in the mood for more goals of their own though and Milan Djuric nearly provided when he poked wide of Stockdale’s left post.
IN THE MOOD FOR GOALS
But the second goal was delivered by Reid when he struck from close-range to collect his milestone. Bryan’s raking cross, which was causing problems for the travelling side, picked out Diédhiou who leapt like a fish out of water to guide a header into the path of the on-rushing Reid, whose first-time shot span into the bottom corner.
However, Garry Monk’s side halved the deficit through Jutkiewicz’s third goal in as many games, as his left-foot strike from the edge of the area squeezed in at Fielding’s near post.
With the Blues fighting to save their Championship lives they soon began to put pressure on City but Fielding denied an equaliser as half time approached, as he watched a Jutkiewicz volley before diving to make the easy save.
The crowd were out in good voice for the second period, knowing their enthusiasm and support could rub off on the pitch and help City complete the job in hand. And it was under the BS3 roar that Reid wriggled his way forward and won a free kick, with Pack looking to emulate his first-half heroics. It wasn’t to be this time though, as his low set piece trickled off target.
The crossbar went on to deny Reid’s 21st goal of the season, as he used his head to meet Kelly’s Hordur Magnusson-esque long throw from the left. Diédhiou then tried his best to make something of the rebound but the Blues recovered to smother the ball away.
The hosts survived a scare as Monk’s team came close to making it 2-2. Boga showed a turn of pace down the right and his cross was met by the header of goalscorer Jutkiewicz but the ball glanced inches wide of goal.
Substitute Beryly Labala then tested Fielding but the City keeper palmed his long-range shot away as the Blues piled on late pressure.
THE ICING ON THE CAKE
Meanwhile, City weren’t giving up on a third goal and it duly arrived through the long-awaited return of Taylor. He picked out Reid in the box and met the 25 year old's low cross with sweeping shot as he nestled the ball beyond Stockdale with a little more than five minutes of regular time remaining.
City now have a chance to overtake Middlesbrough, who lost away to Sheffield United, when they travel to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday (April 14th, 3pm kick-off).
- Pack (12') , Reid (27') , Taylor (84')
- Bobby Reid, Milan Djuric, Famara Diedhiou
- Jutkiewicz (34')
- Maxime Colin, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Jeremie Boga