- English Football League - Championship
- Sunday, June 28th 2020
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Sunday, June 28th 2020
City’s return to Ashton Gate didn’t go to plan as, despite Nahki Wells heading home his third goal in Robins colours, they slipped to a second defeat in a row.
Connor Wickham’s free header gifted Sheffield Wednesday an early lead, with City’s task made all the harder when Massimo Luongo blasted the ball past Niki Mäenpää following a corner.
Garry Monk’s side looked arguably stronger for large periods, but City showed brighter spells particularly in the second half, forcing a way back into the fixture when Wells headed in from close range.
Right-back Zak Vyner came off the bench to make his first club appearance for over two years but he could only snatch at the chance to pull City level at the end, while Lee Johnson's men also had two penalty appeals dismissed.
The loss keeps City 12th in the Sky Bet Championship standings, five points behind sixth-placed Cardiff City with the gap between the Robins and Monk’s men now just three points.
Head Coach Johnson rang the changes though kept his midfield engine the same from last weekend’s trip to Ewood Park. Four of his seven changes came at the back: Niki Mäenpää replaced Dan Bentley in goal, while Ashley Williams brought further experience to central defence in place of Tomas Kalas. Jay Dasilva came in for Tommy Rowe on the left, and Jack Hunt replaced Pedro Pereira at right-back. The attack was led by Wells, Andreas Weimann and Benik Afobe – making his first start since August – with Jamie Paterson, Niclas Eliasson and Famara Diédhiou named on the bench.
Owls keep City at bay
Joe Wildsmith was the busier of the two keepers in the opening 10 minutes, his first save showed fantastic reflexes to deny Nathan Baker from close range. The threat came from Dasilva’s corner, with Baker making contact at the far post and Wildsmith flung out an arm to turn the ball on to the roof of the net.
It was a great chance for the hosts with just minutes played and Wildsmith looked assured again not long after, when he refused to be unsighted by Wells. Hunt’s cross, a free kick following a foul on Afobe, looked for a glancing header off former QPR man Wells, but Wildsmith was untroubled and gratefully held on to the in-swinging ball.
But the Owls struck inside the 13th minute with poor defending on City’s part. Sheffield Wednesday forced the corner which Jacob Murphy took, picking out the unmarked Connor Wickham who guided his header into the far corner.
It was a move straight off the training ground, an infuriating way to fall behind from the host’s perspective but Weimann looked equally frustrated at the other end when his questions of a penalty appeal were dismissed. The forward appeared to take a nudge in the back from Barry Bannan after chasing down a ball from the right hand side, but referee John Brooks pointed for a goal kick.
But City’s energetic start had certainly fizzled out as half-time approached and the Owls had one more threat through Murphy, who had the beating of former Owl Hunt, but his ball across the box was turned away.
Brighter moments after the break
City needed to ask more questions after the break and they finally carved a half-chance but not before one of Wednesday’s own. Kadeem Harris saw sight of goal but couldn’t get enough bend on his curling effort, before City swept forward. Weimann and O’Dowda got City moving into the Owls half, with the latter picking out Wells in the advanced area but Liam Palmer blocked just as the striker pulled the trigger.
Han-Noah Massengo made way for Eliasson as City looked for more pace and width but the visitors soon had City under the cosh and their pressure eventually paid off. The second goal would come from another corner, forced by a good save from Mäenpää initially, but the home team failed to clear the resulting set piece and Luongo capitalised in the box.
With an hour gone, City were up against it and things could have got a lot worse when Wickham was gifted a chance moments later, but he scuffed the opportunity for his second goal of the day as the ball rolled wide.
Wells bring hope
Johnson looked for a double change as City needed to mix it up, Diédhiou and Ádám Nagy came on to replace Afobe – he wasn’t involved in the chances but looked bright and showed good touches when on the ball - and Weimann respectively, and City were back in the contest almost instantly.
Captain Korey Smith did well to keep an overhit cross alive, looping the ball back into the danger area where Baker saw his strong header kept out by Wildsmith. However, Wells was on hand to nod the ball over the line – all three of his goals for the Robins have now come via his head - to halve the deficit with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
The Robins had hope but as the minutes ticked by the Owls were still holding on to their lead. Jamie Paterson and Zak Vyner – the Academy graduate making his first City appearance since January 2018 – were introduced with O’Dowda and Hunt departing.
Vyner was right among the chances as the game entered injury time, unfortunately he dragged his efforts wide. Meanwhile, Paterson had a late appeal for a penalty when he tangled with Moses Odubajo, but again referee Brooks played on.
The Owls broke forward and substitute Alessio Da Cruz looked to add a third at the death but his shot was turned over by Mäenpää before City’s defeat was confirmed.
The Robins will go in search of their first win of the resumed season when they travel to face Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night (July 1st, 6pm KO).
The match will be available for Season Card holders via Robins TV Live and on offer at £10 all other supporters.
- Wells (68')
- Jack Hunt, Andreas Weimann, Han-Noah Massengo, Callum O'Dowda, Benik Afobe
- Wickham (13') , Luongo (59')
- Julian Börner, Massimo Luongo, Jacob Murphy, Jordan Rhodes, Connor Wickham