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Report: Bristol City 0-2 Reading

Bristol City are still without a home win this season following a 2-0 loss to Reading at Ashton Gate.

Nick Blackman and Garath McCleary both found the net inside the first 13 minutes of a match in which the home side struggled to find their free-flowing best.

From then on the visitors were content to play on the break, and opportunities to spark a City fightback were rarely forthcoming despite good possession and no shortage of corners.

Steve Cotterill was forced into one change from the 1-1 draw at Preston North End in which his side were so dominant, as Derrick Williams replaced the injured Nathan Baker, sidelined by a back problem.

City started with their usual gusto, creating good crossing opportunities down the left flank, whilst Jonathan Kodjia’s energy was unsettling the Reading backline.

But one slick counter-attack from the visitors was enough to edge them in front inside nine minutes.

Matej Vydra’s pass with the outside of his right foot set Blackman free one on one with Aden Flint, prompting the striker to take a touch inside on to his stronger left and blast the ball past Frank Fielding via a slight deflection.

There was a question of offside against the goalscorer to rile the home fans, but City did not get the benefit of the doubt from the officials.

It was the Royals’ first sight of the City goal, and their second would prove no less fruitful four minutes later.

Having drifted infield to pick up possession, McCleary carried the ball into shooting territory before letting fly with a skidding drive that beat Fielding low to his right from all of 30 yards.

City responded with no shortage of pressure, forcing a barrage of corners, but referee Stephen Martin was not in a generous mood whenever Aden Flint rose to meet a cross.

The brightest piece of open play arrived on 34 minutes when Luke Freeman was released to run at the Reading defence from a quickly-taken free kick, luring blue and white shirts before slipping the ball through for Kodjia, whose first-time shot was blocked by Michael Hector.

Meanwhile, the Royals escaped at the other end when McCleary bore down on goal from the right channel but was rather too unselfish in trying to lay the ball off for Blackman and the chance was lost.

The second half started in a similar vein when Joe Bryan was called into action to get a big toe on the ball and stop Vydra in his tracks, before sending the striker into the front row of the Dolman Stand with a crunching tackle on the touchline.

Oliver Norwood’s attempt to catch out Fielding from the halfway line may have sailed over the crossbar but clearly underlined the confidence pouring through the visiting team.

Half-time substitute Wes Burns stretched his legs for the first time with a typically pacey burst down the right wing to bring the crowd to life, while fellow youngster Bobby Reid was also introduced before the hour mark, with Liam Moore and Marlon Pack making way respectively.

Reid would take over corner duty from the City left, causing a problem for Jonathan Bond with his very first delivery only for Flint to flick the ball over the top after the keeper had fumbled.

Cotterill’s third final change had arrived by the 62nd minute, as Kieran Agard replaced Aaron Wilbraham, while Korey Smith took the captain’s armband and Luke Ayling studied a piece of paper plotting a route back into the game.

But clear opportunities to halve the deficit would prove few and far between. Agard shot against the legs of Hector and numerous corners continued to bounce inside the Reading box but went unconverted.

The visitors counter-attacked smartly when the time was right, with Blackman firing over from the best of them, but the damage had already been done.

Reading somehow survived a goalmouth scramble two minutes from time involving Agard, Kodjia and Burns, but it was not to be City’s day.