- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, August 31st 2019
- Ashton Gate
James Crawley reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol City 2-2 Middlesbrough
Saturday, August 31st 2019
It finished two-goals apiece in a closely fought 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate.
Kasey Palmer’s header just before the break gifted City a half-time lead but Boro rallied in the second half and were back in the contest courtesy of a Taylor Moore own goal. The young Robins defender had little time to react to a powerful cross which saw the ball deflect off his boot.
Britt Assombalonga put the visitors in front but Lee Johnson’s men dug deep and in their attacking urgency pulled the game back to equalise through Tommy Rowe’s second goal of the campaign.
There had been little to separate the sides throughout much of the match and both created a number of chances, but the draw means City extend their unbeaten run to five games heading into the first international break of the season.
Lee Johnson made three changes for the return to BS3, with Jack Hunt, Palmer and Niclas Eliasson all restored to the starting XI. Tomas Kalas was absent through injury, while Famara Diédhiou and Perdo Pereira joined latest recruit Ashley Williams on the bench.
Bentley was the busiest of the two goalkeepers early on, first tipping away a placed shot from Ashley Fletcher before palming away the resulting corner.
Nathan Baker then had to stand strong to block a strike from McNair and the former Sunderland man nearly assisted Fletcher with a low cross. The Boro forward guided the ball goalwards but the base of the post came to City’s rescue.
The away side had had the best of the early chances but the home side were promising on the counter and Eliasson’s ping of a pass found the run of Andreas Weimann who got lucky with the bounce of the ball to create a shooting opportunity but he couldn’t keep the ball down.
The post would deny City too when Baker glanced another trademark Eliasson cross towards the corner of Darren Randolph’s goal but the ball bounced off the frame, while at the other end Bentley’s superb reflexes kept out a Assombalonga strike.
Randolph was soon called into action himself, this time producing a good stop to deny Afobe’s header but there absolutely nothing he could do to keep out Palmer’s effort.
City’s Sweden winger had looked dangerous from wide positions all afternoon and when Eliasson broke to the byline he stood up the perfect cross for Palmer whose downward header found the bottom corner, leaving Boro’s keeper rooted to the spot.
Jonathan Woodgate’s side mustered the first shot of the second half but Bentley was equal to McNair’s long shot, while City were soon winning the ball high in the opposition’s half and Randolph was down quickly to smother a low shot from Afobe, before Weimann fired over on the half-volley.
But no matter how bright City had looked, the scores were level just after the hour-mark. McNair made the run to the byline and fired a low ball across the penalty area which ricocheted off the unfortunate Moore and into the goal.
On came Callum O’Dowda for Palmer to hep freshen City’s forward movement, while Pereira replaced Jack Hunt who took a knock, but the substitutes had little time to impact the game before Boro went in front.
A ball over the top did the damage, with Moore unable to divert the ball away from Assombalonga’s path and the frontman raced through one-on-one with Bentley before rolling the ball into the far corner.
But with ten minutes remaining, City scored their second of the day and it was all thanks to another header. O’Dowda this time exploited Boro’s width vulnerability and from wide his cross was steered home by Rowe’s header.
It set up a next-goal wins finish in a nervy climax and Afobe headed wide when off-balance, while Bentley made a key block in stoppage time to prevent Ryan Shotton from sneaking in a late goal of his own.
With no men’s football next weekend, Ashton Gate will host Tanya Oxtoby’s City Women, who open their WSL season against Brighton & Hove Albion at Ashton Gate. Tickets are available here.
Johnson’s squad return to action on Saturday, September 14th (3pm KO) away to Stoke City.
With thanks to:
- Palmer (44') , Moore (64' og) , Rowe (81')
- Jack Hunt, Kasey Palmer, Han-Noah Massengo
- Assombalonga (68')
- Marvin Johnson, Ashley Fletcher