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Report: Bristol City 3-1 Wolves

Bristol City climbed four points clear of the drop zone with a crucial victory over the Sky Bet Championship’s form team at Ashton Gate.

Wolves arrived in BS3 on a five-match winning run, but rarely troubled the hosts once Jamie Paterson curled Lee Johnson’s side in front 12 minutes before the interval.

Tammy Abraham’s brace, the first coming from the penalty spot, ensured a steep uphill task for the visitors, who eventually replied through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson with a consolation goal that made no difference to a hugely significant result.

Lee Johnson reacted to what he labelled a “capitulation” at Preston North End in midweek with four changes to his starting line-up.

In came Mark Little, Josh Brownhill, Paterson and Matty Taylor; out went Jens Hegeler, David Cotterill, Callum O’Dowda and Lee Tomlin.

On the sunniest day since the opening weeks of the season at Ashton Gate, the game started brightly.

City were quick and sharp with their passing, but it was Wolves, roared on by a sold-out away following, who created the first notable chance.

When Nouha Dicko was played through by teenager Morgan Gibbs-White, the visiting masses were preparing to celebrate until Frank Fielding raced from his line to shut down Dicko’s angles.

After Bailey Wright slid in to win the second ball, there were two reasons for the home fans to roar with approval.

City produced their best piece of football so far midway through the first period and were inches away from being rewarded with the deadlock breaker.

As soon as Little picked up the ball for a throw-in on the halfway line, Korey Smith set off down the right.

When Little threw the ball to Brownhill, the midfielder send a first-time pass over the top to Smith, who killed it in instant and crossed towards Abraham to win a corner.

From Paterson’s ensuing delivery, Aden Flint rose at the far post and sent a towering header back in the same direction only to see the ball drop on to the face of the Wolves crossbar.

It was becoming increasingly rare for either team to string together such a move, with Joe Bryan and Paterson both sent tumbling just as they broke into Wolves territory.

But it was with a touch of class that City took the lead on 33 minutes. Paterson, making his first start since returning to former club Nottingham Forest in January, traded passes with Taylor to buy himself a yard of space on the edge of the box before curling a delicious right-footed shot inside the far post.

Suddenly, from the devastation of Deepdale, City’s tails were up. Little, who had not even made a matchday squad for two months, showed the pace and power of his prime to burst into the box and past Matt Doherty, who only succeeded in bringing him down.

With Tomlin and Cotterill on the bench, Abraham grabbed the ball and sent goalkeeper Andy Lonergan the wrong way to bring up league goal number 20 of the season – 23 in all competitions.

City were sitting pretty at half-time but only too aware the job was far from done.

Wolves, targeting an early goal back, had a golden chance to do so only for Doherty’s touch to let him down at the vital moment. A matter of seconds later, they were 3-0 down.

When Smith’s initial pass was cut out, the City skipper was quickest to react and stormed into the box, pulling the ball across goal for Abraham to turn in his second of the day from ten yards.

The visitors then created a chance very similar to the one they had previously squandered. This time Ben Marshall was the man over in the box, but his chip towards the far post dropped agonisingly wide, as well as beyond the reach of the sliding Dicko.

As the clock ticked down, there seemed no way back for a Wolves team who had won their last five matches but were not troubling the hosts.

But when Lee Evans’ pot shot deflected kindly into the path of Bodvarsson, the substitute was presented with the simple task of beating the wrong-footed Fielding from six yards.

All of a sudden there was a spring in the step of a visiting side who had looked down and out. Marshall set up Andreas Weimann, whose curling effort was well held by the City keeper.

Wolves were a different animal now. Paul Lambert threw on more attacking players and balls were pinging around in the City box, but time was against the Midlanders.

Having survived an initial flurry, City saw out the rest of the game relatively comfortably and took a big step closer to survival in the process.