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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Saturday, August 7th 2021

📝 Report: Bristol City 1-1 Blackpool

City earned a share of the points with Blackpool as the Robins welcomed supporters back to Ashton Gate for competitive football for the first time since March 2020.

It was a game which City dominated for large spells and they deservedly led just before half-time through Chris Martin’s header.

The Tangerines found themselves in BS3 with just two defeats since mid-February with the League One play-off winners finding enough within to battle back at the death.

Shayne Lavery was the man to pounce in injury time, coming off the bench to grab the latest of equalisers in this league opener.

The Background

Nigel Pearson handed three debuts to his summer signings, with Rob Atkinson lining up in defence and Matty James partnering Andy King in midfield. This was a starting XI consisting of one change from last weekend’s team against Aston Villa as Alex Scott started ahead of Kasey Palmer.

There was a moment to remember the late Terry Cooper ahead of kick-off, as former players returned to BS3 to pay their respects. There was a minute’s applause alongside a video montage of the former City player and manager, who sadly passed away last weekend. Members of his family were also in attendance as the player wore black armbands throughout the game.

What happened

City were in near total control in a first half where they carved out a number of chances.

It took a last-ditch James Husband challenge to thwart Callum O’Dowda in the box, though it appeared to be this tackle which ended the midfielder’s afternoon and O’Dowda would be replaced by Kasey Palmer.

Big chances went begging for the home side as Andreas Weimann blazed wide, while Palmer was denied by Chris Maxwell at the keeper’s near post.

Boyhood City fan King would have expected better when he missed with a free header, but City’s new signings had been a pleasure to watch so far. Matty James looked tidy in possession and Atkinson looking defensively solid and composed when bringing the ball forward.

Atkinson could have got on the scoresheet late in the first half. James played it short to Scott who whipped a ball towards the far post where Atkinson was stretching to meet the ball but the centre-back couldn’t steer the ball on target.

But City finally took their chance inside the last minute of the half with Martin finding the back of the net! Scott was involved again, this time laying the ball to King and his cross was perfect for the head of Martin, who guided the ball into the far corner.

It gave City the perfect platform to start the second half though there was more bite about the Tangerines, who saw their first effort on goal curl wide of the target from Grant Ward.

Moments later a fizzing ball from left-back Luke Garbutt would evade everyone as the ball flashed across the goalmouth. City would survive, while at the other end James failed to hit the marker as he struck off balance with an effort from the edge of the area.

By now the crowd were in full voice as the atmosphere rippled around the ground and with it, City’s dominance began to creep in again.

The Tangerines looked helpless at times against a rejuvenated Robins in front of their home support, and if only a James shot from outside the box had just nestled an inch or two the other side of the post, they would have had another goal to celebrate.

Scott received a warm round of applause when he departed the field for Joe Williams, as his replacement entered the pitch to play in front of City supporters for the first time since his move last year.

However, Blackpool threatened again when Callum Connolly smacked the post, before Jerry Yates – their top goalscorer last season – blazed off target.

Palmer was soon replaced by Sam Bell but even with fresh legs, City couldn’t hold on to earn what would have been a first home win since January. It was heartbreak therefore when Josh Bowler’s cross from the left was met by Lavery who pounced from close range and celebrate in front of the travelling Tangerines supporters.

City v Blackpool: Bentley, Vyner, Atkinson, Baker, Dasilva, James, King, O’Dowda (Palmer 13, Bell 88), Scott (Williams 77), Weimann, Martin. Subs: O’Leary, Kalas, Simpson, Williams, Palmer, Bell, Wells.

Up next

We travel to Forest Green Rovers in Round One of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night. It's sold out, however tickets remain on sale for a return to BS3 against Swansea City, following next weekend's trip to Middlesbrough.

🎤 Post-match reaction

Nigel Pearson and Chris Martin assess the opening-draw draw


📊 Bristol City in numbers

  • Shots: 7
  • Total passes: 238
  • Key passes: 7
  • Pass success rate: 66%
  • Aerials won: 23
  • Tackles: 6
  • Interceptions: 6
  • Clearances: 5
  • Possession: 52.3%

Best Opta mach rating: Chris Martin 7.73

Martin in numbers:

Minutes played: 90

Goals: 1

Shots: 2

Pass accuracy: 54.1%

Key passes: 2

Aerial won: 10

Touches: 47

On the ball

  • Most passes: Rob Atkinson 57
  • Best pass accuracy: Jay Dasilva 78.1%
  • Most touches: Atkinson 68

Defensive duties

  • Most tackles: Kasey Palmer 3
  • Most interceptions: Atkinson, Matty James, Andy King, Nathan Baker 2
  • Most clearances: Baker 4

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