City farewell salute for Smith
Posted: Sunday, August 9th 2020
Saturday, April 29th 2017
Bristol City secured their Sky Bet Championship status in style to gatecrash Brighton’s promotion party.
Josh Brownhill headed his first goal in City red from a Matty Taylor cross two minutes before half-time at the end of an incisive move.
City predictably had to withstand some heavy pressure, but created just as many clear-cut chances as the Seagulls, who missed the opportunity to wrap up the title on home soil.
Lee Johnson unsurprisingly kept his faith in the same starting line-up that had racked up ten points from City’s last four games.
With promotion already in the bag, there was a party atmosphere inside a sold-out Amex Stadium as the hosts eyed the victory that would see them lift the Sky Bet Championship trophy at full time.
After wins for Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City earlier in the day, City knew they still needed a point of their own to be mathematically certain of staying up.
But it was a buoyant home team who started with menace. After Anthony Knockaert was ruthlessly dispossessed by Joe Bryan, Bailey Wright’s sliced clearance fell kindly for Glenn Murray, who snatched at the sort of chance he’s taken all season, dragging his shot wide.
That early scare aside, City settled to their task well, giving the league leaders no time in possession.
When Taylor hurried keeper David Stockdale, Marlon Pack picked up the pieces and found Jamie Paterson, whose cross was glanced wide by Tammy Abraham.
Brighton attacks were encouragingly sporadic. Bruno’s teasing cross from the right had the natives on their feet, but Aden Flint towered above Murray to make a vital clearing header.
Then Jiri Skalak stepped inside from the left flank and let fly with a low drive gathered by the stooping Frank Fielding, making his first save of the game in the 28th minute.
But it was Bruno on the other side – Brighton’s 36-year-old right-back – who was causing the most problems, as Fielding bravely punched clear a cross at his near post before Mark Little headed clear another with Knockaert lurking.
Suddenly the Seagulls had a bit of momentum. Murray’s knockdown was on a plate but lacked a team-mate close enough to tap it in, while Gaetan Bong tried his luck with a shot deflected behind for a corner.
It was Albion’s best spell of the game but City were hardly hanging on and the visitors’ confidence was evident when they stunned the home crowd with the opening goal two minutes before the interval.
Not only did Brownhill finish the move, he also started it. Nipping in to steal possession in the Brighton half, the energetic midfielder found Taylor in space to his right.
With time to pick out a red shirt, the striker delivered the perfect cross for Brownhill to score his first City goal with a neatly taken downward header from six yards that left Stockdale no chance.
Johnson would have been braced for a reaction from his opposite number and, sure enough, Chris Hughton made a half-time change in a bid to spark an improvement.
On for Skalak, substitute Solly March soon trotted across to take a corner that should have been dispatched by Uwe Huenemeier, who nodded wide from an unmarked position eight yards out.
City spurned a golden chance to give themselves breathing space in the match on the hour from another corner.
When Paterson chipped the ball to the onrushing Bryan on the edge of the box, the Bristolian’s header on should have been converted by Taylor, who missed his kick on the six-yard line in front of the travelling fans.
By the midpoint in the second period, the vast majority of the play was taking place in City’s half of the field.
Flint continued to stand firm, blocking off the near post and making a series of clearances.
When one cross did sail over his head, it also eluded the onrushing Tomer Hemed as the striker flew himself at the ball.
With 13 minutes to go Johnson made his first change, replacing Taylor with Bobby Reid, who was making his first appearance in six matches.
Before long Abraham was also withdrawn and on came Milan Djuric – himself out of action since early March – as crosses rained down on the City box.
But the imperious duo of Flint and Wright were up to the task and continued to leave Fielding relatively untroubled behind them.
Ex-City loanee Lewis Dunk stayed forward from another Brighton corner and send a skidding shot past the post, while March fired over on the counter-attack after Johnson felt Paterson was shoved in the box by Bruno.
Albion were throwing caution to the wind and City nearly took advantage when Reid forced Stockdale to make an excellent one-handed save down to his right, before Paterson’s fierce drive was tipped over.
With four added minutes signalled, Brighton were never going to disappear quietly, but Fielding’s hands were safe when Murray headed into his grasp in stoppage time, extending City’s impressive run of form to 13 points from a possible 15.
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