- English Football League - Championship
- Tuesday, April 2nd 2019
- Riverside Stadium
James Crawley reports from Riverside Stadium
Report: Middlesbrough 0-1 Bristol City
Tuesday, April 2nd 2019
Adam Webster’s first-half header has sent City back into the play-offs in a well-earned win against Middlesbrough.
Lee Johnson’s side pressed the Smoggies from the off and after surviving a crossbar and goalline clearance scare, Webster rose to give City a half-time advantage.
Tony Pulis’ side wasted a number of chances, with Assombalonga striking the post, while Max O’Leary was in form to keep the hosts at bay and earn a clean sheet.
Marlon Pack curled a shot narrowly wide as City almost squeezed a second goal but a defensive tactical switch saw Johnson hold out to take the points back to Bristol.
The City head coach made just one change from the trip to Sheffield United three days earlier, with Jamie Paterson stepping in to replace Korey Smith in midfield. Andreas Weimann, the hat-trick hero from Saturday, kept his place up front.
Both sides settled well in fairness and it was the home side with the first of the best chances but for City captain Bailey Wright. A lofted cross was headed goalwards by Assombalonga but the Robins skipper was positioned nicely to boot the ball away from in front of the goalmouth.
Assombalonga wold have the ball in the back of the net moments later but he was adjudged offside.
But ten minutes in and it had been a good start with City playing the ball around despite the torrential downpours leading up to kick-off in Teeside.
Dean Holden had spoken of wanting another fast start and that’s exactly what the travelling 200-plus fans were getting as City broke on the counter, led by Paterson. City would win a corner from which Dasilva eventually managed a teasing cross into the box and Weimann’s fizzing header curled wide as it begged to be tucked in at the far post.
The home side were gifted a glorious chance to take the lead but wasted the opportunity after Webster was dispossessed in his own half. Ryan Shotton capitalised and squared a low pass to George Saville but he blazed the ball high over O’Leary’s goal.
The young keeper would be called into action after 20 minutes though when Jonny Howson was found unmarked. He took one touch before shooting but O’Leary spread his body wide to make the vital block.
Some incredible defending soon followed as the woodwork and defensive bodies came to the Robins’ rescue. Another ball across the box looked destined for the back of the net with a shot from Howson but Wright was again well placed to deflect the effort on to the crossbar and Tomas Kalas cleared Ashley Fletcher’s follow-up off the line.
But for all that drama, City forced a corner just minutes later, from which Webster leapt like a fish out of water to meet Dasilva’s ball and open the scoring. He was in acres of space and unchallenged as he nodded the ball beyond Darren Randolph to grab his third goal of the campaign.
Now City were on the front foot with Josh Brownhill motoring forward and he picked out Dasilva who managed a deflected shot into the box. It landed at Paterson’s feet who did well to keep the ball alive by finding Brownhill again but the experienced Stewart Downing was able to block the shot.
The home crowd were growing restless and could have been 2-0 down but for Weimann’s skewed effort and Paterson was denied by Randolph from close range as City broke on the counter once more.
Playing at home though Boro wouldn’t make this an easy ride and rallied towards the end of the first half. Assombalonga could have equalised but got his footing all wrong when presented an open goal, while O’Leary made a parried save to deny Howson in stoppage time, however Johnson’s side had been good value and deserved their 1-0 lead at the interval.
The City head coach replaced Weimann with Smith for the start of the second half; the Austrian had look in discomfort towards the end of the first 45 as Johnson looked for an extra body in the engine room.
However, a well-worked free kick routine almost undone City’s work up to this point and just the woodwork prevented Boro’s equaliser five minutes after the restart with Assombalonga’s shot bouncing back of the base of the post.
O’Leary parried another effort by pushing away a Fletcher header and City’s passing was growing sloppy at times with Howson shooting not far wide after Boro cut out an attempted cross-field pass.
The cold night in Teeside was warmed up by the atmosphere inside the Riverside Stadium with passion on show from both sides. But as tempers calmed, football was soon doing to talking and City nearly doubled their advantage through Pack. The midfielder produced a strong run, combing passes with Dasilva before latching on to the youngster’s through ball but placing a shot an inch wide of Randolph’s far post.
Lloyd Kelly replaced Paterson with 15 minutes remaining with position shuffling seeing Dasilva given freedom in the final third, while boosting the defence with Kelly’s presence.
Boro had late appeals for a penalty dismissed when former City defender Aden Flint tangled with Famara Diédhiou but referee Gavin Ward wasn’t interested in the appeals, much to the disgruntlement of the home support.
Nathan Baker would be the final roll of the dice, with Smith unfortunately having to leave the field in pain as the 90th minute approached. Brownhill was wasteful with one last chance at the end of five minutes of injury time but the final whistle rang out as music to the ears of City supporters.
Now unbeaten in their last three games, City return to Ashton Gate to host Wigan Athletic on Saturday (April 6th, 3pm KO) - the first of their final four games in BS3 before the season's end.
- Stewart Downing, George Saville, Ryan Shotton
- Webster (31')
- Jamie Paterson, Andreas Weimann, Korey Smith