- English Football League - Championship
- Friday, September 28th 2018
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 1-1 Aston Villa
Friday, September 28th 2018
Josh Brownhill’s well-driven strike earned City a point against a physical Aston Villa on Friday night.
City looked in control for the much of the first half with the midfielder’s rifled strike settling the home side, before a sucker punch from Birkir Bjarnason saw the sides go into the break all square.
Steve Bruce’s Villa dominated the early exchanges after the break but both sides rarely threatened with many chances.
Lee Johnson’s boys did come back into the contest as the half progressed but it would end honours even.
Johnson named three changes to his starting XI, with starts for former Villain Nathan Baker ahead of the injured Tomas Kalas and Callum O’Dowda and Matty Taylor in for Jamie Paterson and Famara Diédhiou, who moved to the bench.
City started brightly under the Ashton Gate lights, with Brownhill almost turning provider but for Weimann, making his first appearance against his former club in a City shirt, heading over from the midfielder’s wicked cross.
Villa did have the ball in the back of the net first though, when Tammy Abraham nodded past Niki Mäenpää, but the referee Tim Robinson adjudged a foul on the City keeper.
However, Brownhill’s fantastic strike seemed to wrong foot Ørjan Nyland as he blasted City into a 16th-minute lead. It came after Weimann played a neat one-two with Taylor, with the Austrian striker wriggling forward on the edge of the Villa box. He was tackled but in doing so the ball rolled to Brownhill and the City number eight drilled his shot into the Villa net.
Taylor could have made it 2-0 moments later, but his first-time shot lacked conviction as the Villa keeper stood up to the effort.
Play shortly evened out with City looking comfortable. Villa’s only efforts in the first third of the match came from Conor Hourihane’s long-distance efforts which Mäenpää had covered, before Abraham’s weak strike from range after what was a good solo run.
But with City looking good with half-time on the horizon, up popped Bjarnason to head Villa level, as he guided Hourihane’’s cross into the net with the last touch of the ball in the first half.
City were on the back foot almost immediately after the restart, with a teasing cross from Hourihane resulting in heart in mouths for the City fans. The ball pinged around inside the penalty area before it was scrambled away amid calls from the Atyeo Stand for a Villa penalty.
Bruce’s side were dominating the first ten minutes of the second half, and City’s keeper had to be alert as he tipped away a strong, spinning shot from John McGinn in front of a loud away end.
City would soon get themselves back into the tie though, with more of the ball in the away end’s half around the hour mark. The question would be if they could turn their pressure into something substantial?
More questions were asked of Bjarnason when the home crowd called for a handball after it skidded up, although the Villa forward’s arms were down by his side. Johnson rolled the dice with two attacking changes immediately after as Diédhiou and Jamie Paterson entered the fray in place of Matty Taylor and Callum O’Dowda, respectively. As for Villa, former Robin Yannick Bolasie got a run out with his physical and tricky presence looking to mix things up late on.
Chances soon petered out, but City were growing in confidence and almost took the lead with momentum on their side, but Adam Webster’s near-post header scooped over Norland’s crossbar from a Niclas Eliasson corner.
The defender would soon find himself in the right place at the right time to block a dangerous cross from the Villa right as the visitors looked to find a higher gear of their own. And they came a whisker to stealing all the points when Hourihane fired narrowly wide, before the full-time whistle confirmed the points would be shared.
City remain eighth in the Sky Bet Championship, ahead of the weekend’s remaining fixtures.
They return to league action when they travel to face Rotherham United on Wednesday night (7.45pm kick-off).
Photography by JMPUK.
- Brownhill (16')
- Callum O'Dowda, Niclas Eliasson, Matty Taylor
- Bjarnason (48')
- Jonathan Kodjia, Tammy Abraham