- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, March 20th 2021
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 0-2 Rotherham United
Saturday, March 20th 2021
City suffered their second 2-0 defeat at the hands of Rotherham United this season as the physical Millers struck with two headers to snatch the points at Ashton Gate.
The Robins struggled to create any chances but while the visitors were largely kept quiet, Michael Smith would beat Dan Bentley to a Wes Harding cross to head the away side into the lead just before half-time.
City’s frustrations continued after the break and while Nahki Wells went close with a low drive that was well saved by Viktor Johansson, it was Millers skipper Richard Wood who headed in from a corner to double their lead.
The result meant another defeat in BS3 and a a result which leaves them 14th in the Sky Bet Championship table heading into the March international break.
Nigel Pearson handed Liam Walsh his first start of the season after recent appearances from the bench against Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers. The midfielder replaced Henri Lansbury and was joined in the starting XI by Callum O’Dowda, who came in for Antoine Semenyo. Pearson’s third and final change from midweek came in goal where Dan Bentley recovered from illness to replace Max O’Leary as the Robins chased a third successive clean sheet.
Walsh was busy in midfield and quickly settled into the game, having an early shot that sailed over before he outmuscled an opponent and spread an accurate pass across the midfield to offer City some width.
Wells then struck a free kick over the bar as goalkeeper Johansson had nothing to worry him to this point.
Tomas Kalas’ afternoon would be cut short when he landed awkwardly after challenging Smith to a header. The City captain won the ball but was in pain as he hit the ground. He was checked over initially and tried to continue but the defender was shortly back on the floor and replaced by Zak Vyner in the 27th minute.
So far the Robins had been solid out of possession but required a little more quality in the final third, especially with set-pieces, as the Millers conceded free kicks in promising positions.
The Millers had been fairly quiet themselves but with one chance they took the lead just minutes before half-time. Harding was allowed to cross from the righthand side and Bentley came out to reach the ball. However, Smith judged the flight of the ball and beat Bentley to it, glancing the ball past the keeper and into the open net.
City were frustrated in the second half and, with little on offer going forward, Pearson felt a double change necessary on the hour-mark with Famara Diédhiou and Kasey Palmer replaced by Antoine Semenyo and Lansbury respectively.
Within minutes City forced their first effort on goal but it took quick reactions from Johansson to prevent a City equaliser. The play came down the right as Jack Hunt fed a ball into Wells, now playing centrally, who played a one-two with Han-Noah Massengo. The Frenchman’s reverse pass found the advancing striker but Wells’ low shot was tipped away by the diving keeper.
It was a tale of two keepers though as Bentley looked to make up for his earlier mistake with a fine reaction stop of his own. Dan Barlaser produced the free kick and Michael Ihiekwe turned the ball goalwards but Bentley showed a strong hand to push the ball away for a corner.
However, City were further behind from the resulting set-piece and again it came via another corner. This time the delivery was perfect for Millers captain Wood who nodded the ball over the line in front of the Atyeo Stand.
Another double change followed, and it meant an opportunity for City’s youth to take centre stage with Sam Bell and Sam Pearson introduced to replace Massengo and Hunt, respectively.
But the game was getting away from the hosts as it entered the final 10 minutes though Bell nearly grabbed an assist when his perfectly-weighted pass found Semenyo but dragged his shot low and wide.
Manager Pearson now has the international break to work with those players not called up to represent their respective countries with a two-week break before City host Stoke City in the Good Friday fixture at Ashton Gate.
- Tomas Kalas, Jack Hunt, Han-Noah Massengo, Kasey Palmer, Famara Diédhiou
- Smith (44') , Wood (74')
- Daniel Barlaser, Lewis Wing, Ryan Giles, Michael Smith, Freddie Ladapo