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Report: Cardiff City 0-0 Bristol City

Bristol City avoided defeat for the first time at Cardiff City Stadium in a goalless draw in which home goalkeeper David Marshall was the man of the match.

It was Steve Cotterill’s men who enjoyed the better of the play and most notable sights of goal, with Joe Bryan and Elliott Bennett both hitting the same post after Jonathan Kodjia had forced a fine save from Marshall late in the first half.

Cotterill named an unchanged team from the 2-1 defeat at Brighton in which City were more than a match for the league leaders.

It was the visitors who made the better start, with Aaron Wilbraham heading goalwards from a Marlon Pack cross, but Marshall plunged to his left to make the first of many saves.

Then Bennett showed a clean pair of heels to former Manchester United full-back Fabio and forced a corner, from which Luke Ayling powered a header off target.

Cardiff had their first sight of goal after 13 minutes when Frank Fielding punched a cross only as far as Craig Noone, whose curling shot intended for the top corner was a long way wide.

Noone found space again down the right wing to pick out Joe Mason, only for the striker to miss the ball completely.

It was the English City, however, who were playing the slicker football – epitomised by Korey Smith’s pass inside Fabio to release Bennett for a cross that only just eluded Kodjia in the box.

Cotterill would be forced into his first change with only a quarter of the game elapsed when Nathan Baker fell to his haunches in obvious discomfort before Noone exploited the space and saw a shot blocked that would have caused no shortage of controversy had it found the net.

Baker’s evening would be immediately cut short with a hamstring injury, prompting Derrick Williams to revert to his traditional centre-back role and Bryan to ready himself from the bench.

The substitute would find two or three promising positions from which to cross but on each occasion was let down by his final ball in a first half that looked like petering out until Kodjia forced a tremendous save from Marshall.

City’s top scorer had already showed his sharpness to bring down a high ball from Pack in an instant before dragging a low shot wide, but it was the contribution of the Frenchman in the final minute of the half that provided the best moment of the match to date.

Winning the ball from Aron Gunnarsson on the halfway line, Kodjia ran for goal in typically direct fashion, briefly lending the ball to Bennett on the right, whose cross was inch-perfect only for Marshall to keep out Kodjia’s thumping header with a stunning one-handed tip over.

Cardiff boss Russell Slade will know how close his side came to facing a half-time deficit and had his players fired up for the restart.

Mason headed just wide before Alex Revell found space down the left and crossed low towards Mason again, who this time saw the chance deflect behind for a corner.

Another nervy moment ensued from the resulting delivery, but City soon regained their composure in the contest.

Luke Freeman tested Marshall for the first time since the interval with a 25-yard shot the keeper pushed aside, while Bryan soared at the back post to meet a Luke Ayling cross but saw his header come off a defender.

From the corner that followed, Freeman delivered on to the head of Pack, but the midfielder sent the chance over the crossbar from ten yards having escaped his marker.

It was a derby that never quite sprung to life, although City did have the ball in the net 11 minutes from time only for the assistant referee to intervene.

Bennett had the beating of Fabio all night and produced one of countless crosses towards Bryan, who got in front of his man to guide the ball towards the bottom corner.

The Bristolian already has goals in victories against Bristol Rovers and Swindon Town to his name, and was only denied a dream hat-trick by the fingertips of Marshall, who touched the ball on to the post before Kodjia tapped in the rebound from a clearly offside position.

Then, with only two minutes left, Bryan surged into the box and forced a save from Marshall, while Freeman threw himself at the follow-up before the ball ran loose for Bennett, who lashed a fierce drive against the outside of the near upright.

It was a dramatic finale in which Cardiff were also left wondering how they did not snatch maximum points when substitute Samuel Ameobi prodded wide from three yards with the goal at his mercy.