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Report: Bristol City 2-0 Peterborough United

Bristol City cruised to a routine 2-0 win over a Peterborough United side who offered little threat from start to finish at Ashton Gate.

The hosts never looked back from the moment Aden Flint lashed in a ninth minute opener, and Kieran Agard’s similarly close-range finish at the start of the second period effectively ended the contest prematurely.

Steve Cotterill admitted he was more concerned with how City would responded following a rare home defeat at the hands of Sheffield United – he should not have worried.

The manager’s team selection bore two alterations, as Marlon Pack and Agard replaced Wade Elliott and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas for game five of eight in the particularly congested month of February, in what has become a marathon season for the third tier leaders.

But there were no signs of fatigue as City flew out of the blocks. The two Smiths combined as early as the second minute when Matt played the ball through for captain Korey, who lifted the ball over the advancing figure of Ben Alnwick.

Smith was clearly taken out by the Peterborough goalkeeper in the process, but the ball dropped wide of the post and referee Christopher Sarginson turned a blind eye to the late collision.

Luke Freeman was looking especially sharp in the opening minutes, just losing out to the last defender at the end of a driving run deep into Posh territory before extending Alnwick with a curling shot towards the top corner that had to be tipped over.

City would not have to wait long for the opening goal. From the resulting corner, Marlon Pack’s delivery was helped on by Matt Smith, headed goalwards by Joe Bryan, saved by Alnwick and dispatched from close range by Flint, who gleefully put his laces through the loose ball from no more than four yards just to be sure.

The bright start had its reward, but from then on City looked so comfortable it seemed to become difficult finding an extra gear to kill the game.

Plenty of possession, crosses and set-pieces did not convert into further chances to score.

Instead it was via a Peterborough corner that City caused their next notable stir.

Alarmingly exposed when the initial cross was headed clear, Posh were left with only Michael Smith standing between Agard and the goal.

Pushing the ball past his opponent from the halfway line and breaking into a sprint to retrieve it, the striker was clearly blocked off by the already unpopular former Bristol Rovers player, who was fortunate to escape with a booking.

After a long conversation between Peterborough’s Smith and Sarginson, it became increasingly clear the visitors would be maintaining a full complement as the official deemed the presence of another covering defender suitable to deny the City man a clear route to goal.

In truth Peterborough could not get much worse. David Norris cracked a speculative volley wide of the near post before the visitors started the second half with a greater sense of purpose only to fall further behind within three minutes of the restart.

The deserving goalscorer would probably have been Bryan, who played a neat one-two with Matt Smith before rifling a shot towards the near corner which Alnwick did remarkably well to tip on to the angle of post and bar and keep at bay.

But Bryan was bright, and immediately lapped up the rebound with a stooping header across goal for Agard to turn in from point-blank range.

It was the striker’s first goal since scrambling a last-gasp winner against AFC Telford United in the FA Cup at the start of December.

As in the first half, City had scored early but again did not seem overly fussed with inflicting further punishment on their below-par opponents.

It was if Cotterill’s men knew Peterborough could not hurt them and already had their sights set on sterner examinations to come.

The intent to score was still there, just without quite the same urgency.

Matt Smith sent a looping header over the crossbar from another Pack corner, while Agard’s attempts to double his tally were thwarted when his shot was blocked from Mark Little’s pass.

Aaron Wilbraham was handed a 15-minute cameo on his return from injury as Smith was granted a breather, and the even later introduction of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas ensured Cotterill could afford all four of his strikers some welcome game time.

The mood inside Ashton Gate was perhaps best summed up by the routine stop made by Frank Fielding to deny Peterborough substitute Erhan Oztumer and the audible ironic cheer that followed from home and away fans alike.

It was the City keeper’s first and last save of the night.