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Saturday, November 2nd 2013
City were denied back-to-back wins and a first clean sheet of the season by Lee Johnson’s Oldham Athletic at Ashton Gate.
A far from vintage Robins display was on track to yield maximum points courtesy of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ first-half opener, only for James Dayton’s left-foot shot to snatch a point for the Latics 13 minutes from the end.
In truth it was a game short on chances, from which neither team could realistically claim to deserve more than a single point.
Aden Flint was restored to the starting line-up in the absence of Lewis Dunk, whose loan move from Brighton & Hove Albion has expired, in Sean O’Driscoll’s only change to his side finally victorious in the league at Carlisle last time out.
New loan signings Karleigh Osborne and Simon Gillett took their seats on a strong-looking bench alongside Joe Bryan and Sam Baldock.
But it was the visitors, under the tutelage of former City midfielder Johnson, who made the brighter start.
Genseric Kusunga’s cross from the right just skidded off the slick playing surface out of the comfortable reach of winger Dayton, whose first-time effort sliced well off target as a result, before James Wesolowski tried his luck from distance with a shot that just veered away from goal.
City were struggling to settle, and Oldham came even closer to breaking the deadlock when Jonson Clarke-Harris got the better of Derrick Williams and fired a low ball across goal which Scott Wagstaff did brilliantly to clear with Dayton waiting for a tap in.
After submitting an entry for worst free kick of the season when his shot narrowly avoided a trip to Ashton Road, Clarke-Harris beat the offside trap and played another low cross from the byeline, this time requiring Brendan Moloney to make a last minute intervention.
By this time City had conjured their best chance out of nothing, as Nicky Shorey’s floated ball over the top from left-back picked out the run of Bobby Reid, who plucked it out of the air with a sublime first touch on his right foot, only to send his left-footed lob just the wrong side of the post with Latics keeper Mark Oxley in no man’s land.
And it was O’Driscoll’s side, who had not played close to their best, who took the lead ten minutes before the interval at the end of a flowing team move.
Goalscorer Emmanuel-Thomas started it, picking out the run of Wagstaff, who declined the opportunity to head for goal, instead finding Ryan Taylor in space on the left side of the penalty area.
The striker took one look up and delivered a cross slightly behind Emmanuel-Thomas, who had to adjust his body to steer a left-footed shot down into the ground and into the corner of Oxley’s net.
When Williams was called upon early in the second half to make a crucial sliding challenge as Adam Rooney bore down on goal, you sensed 1-0 may not be enough.
But it was a second period short on chances. Dayton’s rising 25-yard drive which flashed wide was a rare moment of concern, while Emmanuel-Thomas embarked on a solo run that lacked his usual finishing touch.
Gillett entered the fray for his debut 15 minutes from time, with O’Driscoll seemingly sensing the need to tighten things up by withdrawing Taylor and leaving Emmanuel-Thomas up on his own.
However, in the space of two minutes City had been pegged back. The lively Dayton, coming in off his favoured flank, found space on the edge of the box and fired a clinical finish inside Elliot Parish’s near post with the keeper wrongfooted.
Suddenly Ashton Gate was tense. O’Driscoll threw on Baldock in a bid to regain the lead, but Oldham were good value for a point on the road.
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