Holden happy as City bounce back
Posted: Thursday, December 10th 2020
Wednesday, December 9th 2020
Famara Diédhiou was the super sub as he came off the bench to net a late winner against Blackburn Rovers.
City kept a cross alive through good work from Callum O’Dowda’s knockdown, with the ball turned into Diédhiou’s path via Chris Martin.
It had been a game of forward-thinking football with 37 shots in total by sides. They were separated by just two points outside the play-offs at the time of kick-off, but Blackburn’s talisman Adam Armstrong was kept quiet throughout.
O’Dowda and Antoine Semenyo went close in the opening half particularly, and Nahki Wells flashed a shot inches wide in the second half, before Diédhiou entered the field and grab the 82nd-minute winner.
The 1-0 win lifts the Robins up to sixth in the Championship table, level on points (30) with each of the play-off contenders at this stage in the campaign.
Captain Tomas Kalas marked his 250th league appearance as part of a back four which saw Jack Hunt return to the starting XI. Adrian Mariappa was named on the bench, as was Chris Brunt who would be replaced by Tyreeq Bakinson in central midfield – Dean Holden’s two changes from Saturday. Jay Dasilva was unavailable because of an ongoing shin issue which was scanned on Tuesday night and will be assessed by a specialist.
An even first half saw both sides showing their intent to attack early on with Armstrong, the Championship’s top scorer, in the mix for Blackburn as expected. But his first sight of goal was a low shot that Dan Bentley had to scramble to keep out, before Armstrong blazed over.
But part of Blackburn’s play can leave them exposed and City took advantage of that, just without finding a breakthrough goal.
Semenyo went close with the Robins’ first real chance to note. Tyreeq Bakinson slide a precise through ball to Hunt down the right and his cutback was skewed wide by Semenyo on the striker’s weaker foot.
Minutes later, Ádám Nagy showed his tenacity to win possession back for City in midfield. He took three players out of the game before sliding a pass into O’Dowda but the Irishman couldn’t keep the ball down as he shot off balance.
Still the visitors found themselves on the backfoot and Semenyo drilled a low shot inches wide, before Bentley was called into action at the other end. Harvey Elliott carved out the run of Armstrong who was one-on-one, but City’s keeper got a key touch to the ball. It broke kindly for the Blackburn striker who would have had a scoring opportunity but for the recovering Kalas, who got back to rob Armstrong and end the threat.
After such an entertaining half an hour or so, the game tightened up in the latter stages of the first half with the sides entering the break as they were.
Yet City came out strong and soon carved Rovers open when Martin made an overlapping run behind Barry Douglas. Martin’s cutback picked out O’Dowda in the box but his shot was deflected by former City man Derrick Williams, who turned the ball behind for a corner.
Elliott, on loan from Liverpool, saw a deflected shot himself but Bentley did well to grasp the ball, while Armstrong cut a frustrated figure as he couldn’t hit the target with efforts from range.
Goalscorer Diédhiou replaced Semenyo in Holden’s first change of the night as the game entered the final 15 minutes but it was a long ball into Wells which nearly led to an opener. Zak Vyner’s route-one distribution found the run of the striker, whose first touch was good but as the angle narrowed, Wells couldn’t squeeze the ball into the far corner as it rolled just wide.
But soon after, inside the 82nd minute, Diédhiou was well-placed to put the Robins ahead.
The Robins threw men into the box, with a deep cross from Wells nodded back into the path of Martin by O’Dowda. Martin’s touch took the ball into Diédhiou’s path and the striker’s instincts kicked in and he buried the ball past Thomas Kaminski.
Taylor Moore and Mariappa came on in the last few minutes, with Wells and Martin sacrificed to tighten the defence, and they stood strong as City held out for the much-deserved three points.
Holden's side therefore return to winning ways and now prepare for Saturday's trip north to play Rotherham which will be streamed live on Robins TV.
Photography by JMPUK.