Report: Bristol City 0-2 Middlesbrough
Saturday, August 18th 2018
City struck the woodwork twice in the last five minutes as they slipped to their first league defeat of the season.
Boro took a half-time lead with their front pair of Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga firing the visitors into a 2-0 advantage.
It was an open second half, with City showing character to try and halve the deficit but it wasn’t to be at Ashton Gate.
Both Eros Pisano and Josh Brownhill both struck the bar late on - Pisano seeing his header denied before Brownhill struck a free kick off the bar, which bounced down off the line as Tony Pulls’ side held on.
Korey Smith was restored to the starting XI while Marley Watkins and Eros Pisano were also handed their first league starts.
It took Boro a little over ten minutes to open the scoring with their first real threat on goal. It came from a misjudged pass from Jack Hunt and Braithwaite reacted quickly before sliding the ball beyond Niki Mäenpää.
City reacted but lacked a cutting final ball when Marlon Pack and Jamie Paterson exchanged passes in the Boro half, only for the visitors to win the ball back on the edge of the box.
Pisano timed a header down the line to perfection not long after, with Paterson chasing the ball down. He motored into the visitor’s box and picked out the inform Andreas Weimann, who had to twist past his marker before firing over the top.
Boro keeper Darren Randolph then had to punch away a dangerous cross from Hunt before Pack fired a free kick into the Atyeo Stand after a heavy challenge from Adam Clayton on Watkins.
The Welsh winger had the chance to equalise himself as the half progressed but he couldn’t steer a Hunt cross on target at the back post.
But for all of City’s hard work to keep up the pressure, Boro doubled their advantage with a close-range header just after the half-hour mark. Pulis’ side worked the ball wide to Stewart Downing, who got beyond Pisano before finding Assombalonga who nodded beyond Mäenpää.
City looked to have more about them as they came out for the second half, seeing efforts on goal within the first ten minutes of the restart. First Pisano fired over before the Italian did well to burst forward from left-back, picking out Paterson, whose driven effort on goal had to be tipped away by Randolph.
The game remained open though and Boro wanted a third. Downing fancied his chances after moving inside but his strike caused no trouble for Mäenpää who then was grateful to see the ball hit the side netting when Braithwaite found himself one-on-one.
Paterson then had the chance to halve the deficit from Hunt’s whipped cross. Randolph couldn’t claim the ball and when the ball fell to City’s attacking midfielder, he couldn’t get the ball from out his feet quickly enough and force a clear effort on goal.
Back at the other end, Mäenpää expertly tipped over another Downing strike, before Braithwaite went within inches to converting at the back post.
City would end the half on top and came close to changing the game through a Pisano header. Callum O’Dowda pinged in a ball from the left and Pisano guided his header off the far post. The ball fell to Weimann on the rebound but his strike was placed straight at Randolph, before he flashed a second attempt wide.
Midfielder Brownhill then had the beating of the Boro keeper but not his net as he rattled the crossbar just minutes later, with a free kick from a central position.
Boro held on to their 2-0 lead as City now prepare to travel to QPR on Tuesday night.