- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, December 5th 2020
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham City
Saturday, December 5th 2020
City fell to defeat at Ashton Gate as Birmingham captain Harlee Dean headed in from a corner to bring the Blues’ winless run to an end.
The Robins were largely dominant but struggled to put too much pressure on Neil Etheridge in the Birmingham goal, while the visitors improved in the second-half.
And as their confidence grew, after calling Dan Bentley into action and hitting the post, Dean rose unmarked to net the only goal of the game.
Tomas Kalas had seen an effort cleared off the line, while Famara Diédhiou headed over late on but City will be disappointed in the manner of which they conceded.
The 1-0 defeat leaves City eight in the Sky Bet Championship table.
Head Coach Dean Holden continued with the team which started the second-half at QPR on Tuesday, meaning one change to the starting XI as Tommy Rowe got the nod at left-back ahead of Jay Dasilva. He was named among the substitutes, as was Sam Bell – the son of former club left-back Mickey Bell - who had been training with the first team this week after impressing with the Under-23s. Jamie Paterson was not included in the squad as the club continues to manage an injury and Adrian Mariappa made his first Ashton Gate start at right-back.
The players wore black armbands for the game, in memory of the victims of the Avonmouth tragedy. Luke Wheaton, 16, was a Season Card holder among those killed in the explosion and a shirt with his name was laid on his seat in Section 82, in his honour.
On the pitch it was a laboured start with what appeared to be a serious injury to Ivan Sanchez stopping play inside the fifth minute. He collision with Rowe and landed awkwardly but after being assessed was reintroduced.
Neither team really took control in the early exchanges with little to note in the opening 15 minutes. However, when City went direct - finding the run of Callum O’Dowda behind the Birmingham defence - a cross led to shots from Ádám Nagy and Rowe, though both were blocked by the visitors.
Unfortunate not to get an assist in midweek, in-form Ireland international O’Dowda almost put City ahead soon after, as the hosts grew in confidence. A Chris Brunt free kick towards Tomas Kalas was looped on by Antoine Semenyo and Chris Martin, who steered it into the path of O’Dowda on the edge of the six-yard box, but he couldn’t make strong enough contact as Etheridge made the block.
Birmingham, without a win in six games to this point, looked like a side struggling to find form and they conceded possession as the Robins dominated. Holden’s men had conceded possession more often in recent times but as half-time approached, City had played with 53.3% of the ball at their feet. However, while Wells blazed off target, City would be unable to find a way through before the break.
The home side picked up where they left off with Birmingham on the backfoot immediately and only a goal-line clearance from Maxime Colin denied captain Kalas from turning in at the far post, following a corner.
City’s skipper was then in the spotlight at the other end as Birmingham had strong appeals for a penalty dismissed, when the ball appeared to strike the centre-back’s outstretched arm but the referee was not interested.
Bentley had had little to do but showed smart reactions to parry a Jérémie Bela shot from the edge of the area, before Sanchez rattled a shot against the post. This was a spell of pressure from the visitors and Bentley would thwart them again when Ivan Sunjic tried his luck. The Robins survived the initial corner but the Blues kept possession and Sunjic struck again but couldn’t keep his effort down.
Aitor Karanka will have been pleased by the response of his side but disappointed when Bela curled a free kick well wide, while Holden made his first change with Tyreeq Bakinson introduced in midfield to replace Brunt.
City would put together some good moves but without the killer touch in and around the box. O’Dowda would see sight of goal but his shot was tame for Etheridge, before a double swap saw Martin and Mariappa replaced by Famara Diédhiou and Jack Hunt, respectively.
But with Birmingham growing in possession, they found their goal. It came from a corner, where Dean got free and headed the ball into the net despite the best efforts of Bentley.
With few minutes remaining Bell came off the bench to make his professional debut. Nagy was replaced, while Dasilva got the call in place of Rowe. And As four minutes of added time was displayed, O’Dowda helped to carve out a late opportunity when his cross picked out Diédhiou but the Senegal international’s header sailed over.
That would be the final chance as the Robins succumbed to defeat but they return to Ashton Gate on Wednesday night with the chance to bounce back against Blackburn Rovers (Wednesday, December 9th, 7.45pm KO). The match will be streamed live on Robins TV to Season Card holders only, as the match has been selected for Sky Sports coverage.
Photography by JMPUK.
- Tommy Rowe, Adrian Mariappa, Chris Brunt, Ádám Nagy, Chris Martin
- Dean (80')
- Jon Toral, Scott Hogan