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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Wednesday, January 2nd 2019

Mäenpää hails ‘solid’ City display

Bristol City earned their ninth clean sheet of the season in a 2-0 win against Stoke City.

Niki Mäenpää was the hero between the sticks, saving Benik Afobe’s sixth-minute penalty, and a resilient defensive display provided the backbone of City’s attacks at the Bet365 Stadium.

Famara Diédhiou headed City in front, before Callum O’Dowda's late strike settled the contest, to give City the perfect start to 2019.

“It was a good game, a difficult game of course,” Mäenpää told BCTV.

“To take the clean sheet and three points back to Bristol is amazing.

“Thank you go to David Coles! For every game you look at who might be taking penalties and you look at where they have gone before. There is always a bit of guesswork but this time I went to the right corner and that kept us in the game at that moment.”

Adam Webster and Marlon Pack collided inside the opening minutes with the pair requiring treatment for their respective head injuries. While both carried on, Webster’s wound appeared to worsen and he was soon replaced by Bailey Wright, the club captain making his first competitive appearance since April last year.

Mäenpää said: “It was really solid defending. Because of Webster’s bleeding head it felt like we were playing with ten men at times, which didn’t help. They (Stoke) started really well but we were solid, defended well and controlled the second half. We were the better side in the end and we deserved to win.

“I was pleased to have him (Bailey) back. He was solid and saved a goal in the first half with a lobbed ball but he was in the right place to help us keep the clean sheet.”

City have now extended their unbeaten run to eight games, heading into their FA Cup third round tie with Huddersfield Town on Saturday (January 5th, 5.30pm KO).

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