- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, October 27th 2018
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 0-1 Stoke City
Saturday, October 27th 2018
City couldn’t turn their second-half pressure into goals, with a Darren Fletcher strike proving the difference at a cold and damp Ashton Gate.
Famara Diédhiou would hit the crossbar twice as the hosts threw themselves forward but to no avail.
Fletcher gave the Potters the lead at the break with England keeper Jack Butland, back in his hometown, in form to thwart Marlon Pack and Niclas Eliasson from equalising.
The 1-0 defeat ends City’s two-game winning streak, after three games in the space of a week.
Lee Johnson made two changes to the side which kicked-off Wednesday night’s victory, with Callum O’Dowda and Lloyd Kelly restored to the starting XI, ahead of Andreas Weimann and Jay Dasilva, respectively. Max O’Leary continued between the sticks, hoping to make it a hat-trick of consecutive clean sheets, while Diédhiou led the line after netting the winner against Hull City.
Diédhiou in the mix
Despite a soggy start in BS3, the Senegal striker looked lively and saw a first shot on target, while his hold up play was certainly feeding City danger going forward and he did well to turn out of trouble before curling an effort wide.
Both sides were perhaps off the pace a little as the cold snap was certainly felt around the ground, but City certainly weren’t without their chances.
The next to twist himself out of danger was O’Dowda, who ran towards the byline where his teasing chip glanced inches over the head of the waiting-to-pounce Eliasson.
The crossbar prevented the home side from taking the lead after Adam Webster sprayed a ball wide to the onrushing Jack Hunt. The right-back timed his cross to perfection and Diédhiou’s header looked destined for the top corner, only for the ball to smack down off the upright.
Stoke open the scores
And the visitors made City pay just two minutes later when Benik Afobe’s ball was headed on by Joe Allen. The midfielder’s flick was met by Darren Fletcher in the penalty area, who took one touch before smashing his shot beyond O’Leary.
Johnson made a double change at half-time with Kelly and O’Dowda replaced by Liam Walsh and Dasilva and the tactical switch certainly looked to give City the boost they needed.
Kalas went close but couldn’t keep a header down from an Eliasson corner while the visitor’s only real test on O’Leary’s goal was a fierce effort from Erik Pieters, which City’s shotstopper dealt with using strong fists.
Walsh adds to City attack
Back at the other end Walsh, who looked bright after coming on at the break, almost embarrassed Butland with a long-range strike. It was tame but the England keeper fumbled at the first attempt, quickly clutching the ball before it could spin over the goal-line, with many in the South Stand getting ready to cheer a goal.
But City were now on top and Walsh went close to latching on to Hunt’s low cross, only for Tom Edwards to clear, with Diédhiou himself waiting to pounce at the far post. City’s number nine and the impressive Walsh combined shortly after too, with the City midfielder blazing an effort over the bar.
On the front foot and still finding a way to unlock the Potters’ defence, Johnson made his final switch an attacking one, with Matty Taylor on to replace Josh Brownhill.
Woodwork rescues Potters again
But again only the crossbar stood in the Robins’ way from equalising as their onslaught continued and once more it was Diédhiou who was denied. His header crashed off the crossbar and Marlon Pack, the on-field captain, saw a shot blocked in the goalmouth, all before Walsh’s effort was held by Butland.
Going forward, the Potters offered little in part due to City’s pressure, but Allen whipped a free kick narrowly over O’Leary’s crossbar, before the ball soon found its way up the other end – as it had for much of the second period – where Butland produced two fine stops to block Pack’s header and, with the 90th minute approaching, Eliasson’s effort inside the penalty area.
O’Leary produced a smart one-handed save to deny Afobe late on and while City may have snatched two goals at the death in their last two games, it wasn’t to be this afternoon as all luck evaded them in their pursuit for the equaliser.
The result sees the Robins move to 11th in the league.
City return to Sky Bet Championship action next Saturday when they travel to face Reading.
- Lloyd Kelly, Josh Brownhill, Callum O'Dowda
- Fletcher (33')
- Darren Fletcher, Saido Berahino, Charlie Adam