Report: Bristol City 2-1 Middlesbrough
Saturday, December 2nd 2017
City kicked off the festive season with a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough, thanks to goals from the returning Joe Bryan and Jamie Paterson.
The duo fired City into a quick second-half lead, with both goals coming just three minutes apart, before Boro halved the deficit courtesy of a Hordur Magnusson own goal.
The hard-earned win moves City up into third in the table and extends the gap between Boro and the Robins to eight points.
Bryan and Paterson were Lee Johnson's only changes to the team which beat Hull City 3-2 last weekend, with birthday boy Cauley Woodrow rested on the bench and Callum O'Dowda sidelined through injury.
Both sides showed attacking intent early on but struck their opening efforts off target.
Firstly, Britt Assombalonga blazed high and wide, looking unsteady as he took his shot, before Bobby Reid fired wide after latching on to a Korey Smith chipped pass.
It wasn’t long before City began to settle into this game and show the attacking impetus which proved the difference in their last match.
Bryan looked to burst forward down the left and his fierce cross-come shot was deflected on its way to being palmed clear by Darren Randolph, as the lurking Reid looked to pounce. Josh Brownhill followed up as he looked for his second goal in as many matches, but his drive was also cleared away.
Assombalonga was forced into a goal-line clearance after Marlon Pack’s tame effort from the edge of the penalty area trickled all the way through a crowded box. City kept their attack going but Brownhill again fired over.
Bryan went close again when he drilled a half volley wide, after neat passing from City. Randolph then made a comfortable save as Nathan Baker converted a Paterson cross with a goal-bound header.
The sides went into half time level, despite the host’s domination, although Fielding had to block a Fabio strike as Boro burst forward late into the half.
But the home side came flying out of the blocks after the interval and struck twice inside three minutes to lift Ashton Gate off its feet.
First Bailey Wright swung in a first-time cross from the right which Bryan headed in at the far post, before the impressive Paterson doubled the lead.
Korey Smith did well to win back possession in his own half after the restart and picked out Aden Flint’s run from deep. The defender played a neat one-two with Reid before his cross was volleyed in from close range by Paterson.
Bryan could have added a third as his teasing effort curled wide of Randolph’s goal but Garry Monk’s side were not prepared to roll over so easily.
They halved the deficit courtesy of City’s Icelandic international Magnusson. A ball was pumped into the City penalty area and struck the World Cup-bound defender on the head, sailing into the corner of Fielding's goal.
City were forced to defend well in the latter stages and did so emphatically to secure the win, which sees them go joint third in the Sky Bet Championship, alongside Sheffield United.
The two sides clash at Bramall Lane next Friday (7.45pm).