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Report: Bristol City 5-0 Port Vale

City ran riot with three goals in five minutes at the end of the first half to pave the way for a five-goal blitz at Ashton Gate.

Visitors Port Vale were still very much in the contest as late as the 41st minute, even after Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ early opener.

But Nyron Nosworthy’s header, Sam Baldock’s low drive and a stunning Emmanuel-Thomas free kick put a very different complexion on things at the break, as City strolled off the field four goals up to rapturous applause.

The dismissal of Carl Dickinson did little to help the visitors’ cause before Baldock rounded things off with a fifth.

Steve Cotterill made two changes to his side pegged back at Colchester United on Saturday, handing recalls to Greg Cunningham and Marlon Pack at the expense of Brendan Moloney and Simon Gillett.

It was an adventurous looking setup from the home team, who effectively started with a back three and three strikers, albeit with Emmanuel-Thomas slightly withdrawn behind Martin Paterson and Baldock.

It was Emmanuel-Thomas who opened the scoring after a subdued first 15 minutes, as defenders backed off and allowed the City man to advance unchallenged before dispatching a typically powerful low shot which took a kind deflection en route to the bottom corner.

It was the 20th goal of the season for the summer arrival from Ipswich Town – a notable personal milestone to crown by far and away the most productive campaign of his career in scoring terms.

From then on the confidence was flowing through the City players, with Pack and Wade Elliott controlling the midfield and showing off their full array of passing.

But the Robins would need to survive a nervy moment from a Vale corner, as Jack Grimmer’s downward header found Ben Williamson completely unmarked on the six-yard line, only for Frank Fielding to make a point-blank save before bravely clawing the loose ball to safety.

The City keeper’s flap at the ensuing corner might have been punished by Vale skipper Doug Loft, whose shot only struck a red shirt in a crowded penalty area.

Suddenly the visitors had a spring in their step, but Emmanuel-Thomas should have buried the chance to potentially put the game to bed on the half-hour mark.

Some smart work from Paterson from a Scott Wagstaff throw-in set up the goalscorer, who cleverly let the ball run across his body and opened up his body to sidefoot the ball home, only to place his shot the wrong side of the post.

However, the squandered opportunity was forgotten ten minutes later thanks to an unlikely source.

This time Emmanuel-Thomas hurled the ball in from the touchline, Karleigh Osborne flicked it on and Nosworthy reacted quickly to steer a header into the bottom corner.

Vale could have reason to feel aggrieved having held their own for much of the first period, but City were not about to let up as Baldock latched on to Nosworthy’s long ball and took his time in the face of more hesitant defending before drilling a low shot past Sam Johnson for number three.

A remarkable end to the first half was capped by a spectacular fourth from Emmanuel-Thomas, as if to make up for his unusually untidy opener.

Standing over a free kick well left of centre 25 yards from goal, he tapped the ball a yard wider to make the angle even more acute before Pack put his foot on it and Emmanuel-Thomas curled a shot away from the despairing dive of Johnson and dipped it under the crossbar inside the far corner.

Vale manager Micky Adams showed little regard for the bulk of his side’s first-half performance with a triple substitution at the interval, as if implying he would happily change the entire XI based on their ill-timed capitulation.

But his replacements were not about to turn the tide. Inside the first ten minutes of the restart, Paterson blazed over and Emmanuel-Thomas waltzed his way into another shooting position but passed the ball inches wide from 20 yards. 

An isolated opportunity for the away team saw substitute Gavin Tomlin’s header deflect only just wide, before Dickinson took Vale’s night further downhill with a moment of stupidity midway through the second half.

By now Emmanuel-Thomas was taking some heavy hits, and when Dickinson’s sliding challenge was punished by a booking, the defender’s reaction in the face of the referee earned an immediate second.

It was becoming a training ground exercise for Cotterill’s team against a beaten side.

The impressive Elliott provided number five for Baldock 16 minutes from time, whose composed finish illustrated the ease with which Vale had been cut open again.

There was to be one more chance for Emmanuel-Thomas to complete his hat-trick, but again his radar was off by a matter of inches, while Liam Kelly made his first appearance of the season as a late substitute to round off a perfect night for Cotterill and co, whose unbeaten run extended to six matches.

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