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Report: Bristol City 1-1 Derby County

Aaron Wilbraham’s stoppage-time equaliser salvaged a point for Bristol City at the expense of Derby County.

The visitors led through Ikechi Anya’s lob on the stroke of half-time and looked like holding out despite late City pressure, until substitute Wilbraham was in the right place to level things up.

Lee Johnson made four changes to his side following the heart-breaking last-gasp defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.

Frank Fielding started a league match for the first time under the City head coach – his last start in the Sky Bet Championship coming way back on January 2nd.

Elsewhere, there were first ever City starts for Jamie Paterson and Joel Ekstrand, while Bobby Reid earned a recall in midfield as Johnson switched to a 3-5-2 formation.

Paterson would not have been a favourite with the visiting supporters as a former Nottingham Forest player, but he was straight into the action with a pacey burst down the right, before an attempted one-two with Lee Tomlin on the edge of the box broke down.

Derby had scored only once in their first seven league outings, and record signing Matej Vydra set about redressing the balance with an early snapshot that flew just over.

If that was a bid to test out Fielding, the returning City stopper had to be alert to punch clear a Will Hughes corner in his first meaningful action midway through the first half.

It was a slow burner of a contest, but Derby created the first notable opportunity through Anya, whose cross from the left looked destined to be headed home by the onrushing Hughes, but he somehow nodded wide from six yards.

A City breakaway soon after sparked the home fans into life, as Joe Bryan surged down the left and crossed low for Tammy Abraham, but for once the striker’s first touch did not stick and Derby smuggled the ball to safety.

Unfortunately it was to prove Bryan’s last contribution, as he was forced off on the half-hour with injury. Fellow Bristolian Scott Golbourne took his place at left wing-back.

It had not been a typical City display, with chances few and far between. When Tomlin broke from midfield and had options right and left, he was dispossessed and the attack petered out.

Reid had a rare sight of goal shortly before the interval, dragging the chance wide from distance, before City found themselves behind.

There seemed no danger when a long ball was hoisted forward, but when Aden Flint attempted to glance the ball back to Fielding, Anya nipped in to lob the advancing City keeper and double the Rams’ tally of league goals for the season in avoidable fashion.

Johnson would have demanded an improvement from his side and made a half-time change to boot – reverting to 4-2-3-1 as Luke Freeman replaced Ekstrand.

Freeman’s impact was immediate, sending in a cross punched by goalkeeper Carson only to Reid, who volleyed wide from 20 yards.

The last thing City could afford was to fall two behind, but they nearly shot themselves in the foot nine minutes into the second period when Marlon Pack’s stray pass was picked up by James Wilson.

The Manchester United loanee only had Fielding to beat, but the keeper stood up, made himself big and saved crucially.

City were enjoying more and more territory, but clear chances remained at a premium. Abraham connected with a Mark Little cross and took a whack for his troubles, but Carson was able to make a comfortable stop.

In a game short of good opportunities a second Derby goal would have been a hammer blow, so when Vydra headed the ball down for Craig Bryson City hearts were in mouths, but the Scot’s half-volley just bobbled wide of the far post.

City remained in the contest into the final ten minutes. Tomlin struck the top of the wall from a free kick that deflected behind for a corner, from which Paterson’s cross was glanced just wide by substitute Wilbraham.

Then Hordur Magnusson’s long throw was headed out only to Tomlin, who struck it on the volley with incredible power and watched it rattle the crossbar for what would have been a goal of the season contender.

Fielding was called upon to make one more save from Vydra, and it turned out to be vital as Wilbraham popped up to tap home Reid’s low cross at the death.

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