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Report: Bristol City 1-1 Blackpool

City were denied a much-needed win by Thomas Ince’s stoppage time penalty at Ashton Gate.

Debutant Matthew Bates was harshly adjudged to have handled Nathan Delfouneso’s driven cross after City had taken the lead through a spot-kick of their own nine minutes from time, ruthlessly converted by Steven Davies’ first touch after coming on as substitute. 

Fellow loan signing Neil Danns also made his City bow, with the signing of former Middlesbrough defender Bates only announced one hour before kick-off. 

Elsewhere, there were recalls for Joe Bryan, Stephen Pearson and Jon Stead, taking the total number of changes to five from Derek McInnes’ side beaten 2-0 by Charlton Athletic last time out. 

City started brightly, controlling the midfield area with Danns linking up with Neil Kilkenny and Marvin Elliott in the centre. And it was the Australian who brought Ashton Gate to its feet after ten minutes, thundering a superb shot against the crossbar after Liam Fontaine teed him up 30 yards from goal. 

But the Robins were nearly caught out within seconds, when Blackpool left-back Stephen Crainey launched a long diagonal pass towards in-form winger Ince, who jinked inside Bryan and flashed a low shot towards the far corner, only to draw an excellent save from Tom Heaton in the City goal. 

The contest was livening up, but much of the early edge was lost when Elliott clashed heads with Ian Evatt in trying to get on the end of Kilkenny’s left-wing cross. 

The Blackpool defender was first to his feet, but a long delay ensued before the Jamaican was deemed fit to continue, prompting Paul Anderson to put his tracksuit top back on having been ready and waiting to enter the fray. 

The visitors became a greater threat as the first half progressed, particularly through Ince, although Bryan’s defensive contribution was admirable up against the highly-rated England Under-21 international. 

But Ince, son of former England captain Paul, did manage to slip his way to the by-line on 28 minutes before setting up master goal poacher Kevin Phillips, only for the 39-year-old to slightly scuff his shot which was ultimately cleared to safety. 

If Blackpool’s chief threat was Ince, City’s was shared equally between the whole team, who suddenly looked a far more cohesive unit than seen in recent weeks, summed up by a neat one-two between Adomah and Kilkenny before the Ghanaian dragged his shot marginally wide from 20 yards. 

Kilkenny had been at the hub of everything good about an improved first-half performance, but it was his misplaced pass which paved the way for Alex Baptiste’s deep cross to find Nathan Delfouneso at the back post, who steadied himself before arcing a dangerous curling shot just over Heaton’s crossbar. 

There was still time for one more weaving run into the penalty area from Ince, but having been forced wide on to his right foot, his eventual shot was weak and steered clear by retreating defender Richard Foster in front of the diving Heaton. 

City had been starved of clear chances despite good spells of possession, but Stead was presented with a great opportunity five minutes into the second half, as Ian Evatt’s backpass was left well short of Matt Gilks. 

Lone striker Stead raced on to it, but the Scotland keeper did well to spread himself despite advancing beyond his 18-yard line, and the frontman was unable to find a way through. 

It was not a game to enthral the neutral, but there was much to admire about City’s increased resilience and confidence in possession. 

Adomah set about producing the little piece of magic needed to break the deadlock, and sucked in a clutch of Blackpool defenders before setting up Pearson 18 yards from goal. 

The Scot steadied himself only to see his left-footed shot heroically blocked by Craig Cathcart, before Elliott’s follow up was deflected wide for a corner. 

Three minutes later, Adomah raced on to Stead’s flick-on, cut inside on to his left foot and saw his shot suffer the same fate as Pearson’s – blocked by the sprawling Cathcart – as referee Gavin Ward turned down optimistic appeals for handball against the Northern Irishman. 

City were pressing hard, but would have been undone on the counter-attack but for a slice of luck and excellent goalkeeping from Heaton. 

Delfouneso found himself with a free run on goal, latching on to a long ball over the top only to shoot against the base of the post, before Ince’s slightly miss-hit attempt on the rebound bounced up and had to be tipped over by the former Cardiff City keeper from a grounded position, having already dived to his right in trying to reach Delfouneso’s initial strike. 

And City were indebted to Heaton again to deny the on-loan Aston Villa striker soon after, somehow getting something on a toe-poked shot from close range before gathering the loose ball. 

They were chances Blackpool would live to regret, as the game’s big moment arrived 11 minutes from time, as Adomah just got a slight touch to divert the ball away from diving keeper Gilks albeit from more or less on the goal-line. 

With the ball running out of play for a goal kick, Ward seemed to hesitate before pointing to the spot, much to the relief of the home faithful. 

McInnes responded in bizarre fashion, sending on Davies immediately with the instruction to take the penalty, which he duly dispatched with power, sending the Blackpool stopper the wrong way in the process. 

Cue a nervy finish and yet another fine Heaton save to keep out Delfouneso’s smart turn and shot, before Ince finally broke City hearts with a last-gasp spot-kick of his own following Bates’ perceived handball.

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