- English Football League - Championship
- Friday, April 2nd 2021
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 0-2 Stoke City
Friday, April 2nd 2021
City endured a disappointing afternoon at Ashton Gate where Nick Powell and Steven Fletcher fired Stoke City to an away win.
Powell could consider himself lucky with the opener as it pinged back into his path but when luck’s on your side, there’s little you can do about it.
It was a brighter showing after the break from the hosts but Adam Davies in the Stoke goal had a quiet afternoon in truth.
And Fletcher doubled the Potters’ lead just after the hour. He played a short one-two free kick with Jordan Thompson before placing the ball into the top corner.
The result means City’s poor run at home continues and they would be denied the chance to do a first league double over Stoke City since the 1906/07 season.
Young forward Sam Bell made his first City start on what was his fifth appearance for the club, though it was an afternoon cut short when injured his hamstring inside the 14th minute.
In defence the experienced Tommy Rowe returned after recovering from injury and Tomas Kalas was fit again to captain the side after injuring his hip against Rotherham United last time out. New signing Danny Simpson would come off the bench in the second half to make his Robins debut.
In total, manager Nigel Pearson made four changes: Steven Sessegnon, Liam Walsh, Callum O’Dowda and Famara Diédhiou were replaced by Rowe, Henri Lansbury, Bell and Antoine Semenyo. O’Dowda was an absentee as confirmed by Pearson in the week.
There was a buzzing atmosphere ahead of kick-off to round off the week where City moved into their new Robins High Performance Centre. There was also a new kit on show with the Fans Third Shirt worn by the players under the Bristol sunshine.
City started brightly enough with the likes of Han-Noah Massengo and Antoine Semenyo catching the eye but the home side’s attacks could only come from a couple of corners and crosses which proved ineffective.
Bell was soon forced off and would be replaced by Tyreeq Bakinson before Stoke went close to opening the scoring. A Thompson free kick was turned into the path of Fletcher, who knew little about it but Dan Bentley was rooted to the spot as ball pinged off the striker and sailed wide.
But the opener came inside the 25th minute. The visitors were allowed to build from the back and they attacked down the right with Jacob Brown. His cut back to Powell allowed the forward to get a shot off but it hit Mariappa and ricocheted back into the striker’s path who was quick to bury the ball beyond Bentley.
A sublime pass from Massengo picked out Semenyo who had City’s best chance to equalise but his shot was straight at Davies, while Bakinson headed off target as City trailed at the break.
It was a more positive start to the second half and a slicing pass from Palmer was an inch or so from finding Nahki Wells but it wasn’t to be on that occasion. Again, Wells was the target when Semenyo drove forward but his cross had too much on it.
City’s afternoon soon got worse when Brown was fouled on the edge of the area. Up stepped Fletcher whose one-two free kick with Thompson was perfect and saw the ball glide beyond the diving Bentley.
Pearson soon looked to his bench with a double change which saw Henri Lansbury and Rowe replaced by Marley Watkins and Simpson. But the minutes ticked by and inside the final ten it was another double change, this time Zak Vyner was introduced to make his 150th career appearance, alongside Famara Diédhiou who replaced Palmer and Wells, respectively.
But even with those fresh legs there was no way back for the Robins who now look to Easter Monday’s trip when they face Coventry City (April 5th, 3pm KO) live on Robins TV.
- Tommy Rowe, Henri Lansbury, Kasey Palmer, Sam Bell, Nahki Wells
- Powell (25') , Fletcher (62')
- Nick Powell, Jacob Brown, Steven Fletcher