MansionBet Match Preview: Preston North End (H)
Posted: Friday, January 15th 2021
Tuesday, January 17th 2017
Jamie Paterson’s first-half goal was enough to earn Bristol City a first win in nine games and a trip to Premier League Burnley in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.
City bossed possession and always looked the more likely scorers at Highbury Stadium, securing a second clean sheet in two meetings with the Sky Bet League One promotion chasers and ending the Cod Army’s 13-match unbeaten run in the process.
Lee Johnson made four changes to his side, including a first start in three months for Gustav Engvall.
Elsewhere, Jens Hegeler featured in midfield for the first time alongside Gary O’Neil, while Hordur Magnusson and Paterson earned recalls.
Marlon Pack, Josh Brownhill, Callum O’Dowda and Tammy Abraham all dropped to the bench.
City enjoyed the majority of the early possession, but it was the hosts who registered the first shot on target when Frank Fielding comfortably dealt with Chris Long’s tame 20-yard effort.
Then Long raced in behind the City defence and pulled the ball across goal but just fractionally behind strike partner Devante Cole.
No sooner had the attack petered out than City found themselves in front.
The towering figure of Milan Djuric nodded a high ball down to Engvall, who turned smartly and slipped the ball through for Paterson to bear down on goal.
As defenders retreated, the City man had to take the chance early and did so with a clinical finish, giving Alex Cairns the eyes as he slotted the ball to the keeper’s right from 18 yards.
It was the seventh goal Paterson has scored in his last nine FA Cup ties.
City were soon on the attack again, as Joe Bryan charged into the box and saw a rasping drive beaten out by Cairns, who had to react quickly to thwart Engvall’s follow-up as the Swede eyed his first goal in English football.
Bryan was looking dangerous again on the half-hour when he stood the ball up to the back post where Djuric climbed highest but could not generate the necessary power to beat Cairns.
At the other end, Long had Fielding worried with a skidding shot that ran fractionally wide of the far upright.
But the imposing Djuric continued to give Fleetwood cause for concern. After his snapshot inadvertently struck Engvall, the big Bosnian produced some more effective hold-up play to set up Paterson, who felt his first-time effort was blocked by a hand.
City were doing a professional job and their level of control only increased after the interval.
Scoring chances were in short supply, but the visitors were dictating the pace of the game and retaining possession well to deny the hosts any momentum in the tie.
Engvall was starting to become more involved, regularly drifting out to the left to combine with the impressive Bryan.
On one occasion he darted into the box and appeared to be tripped by substitute Victor Nirennold, but City appeals fell on deaf ears.
Bryan may have been irked not to be awarded the opening goal in Saturday’s Severnside derby after his stunning volley struck the crossbar and rebounded in off goalkeeper Brian Murphy, but his luck was no better in Lancashire.
Seizing on a loose pass in the Fleetwood defence, the Bristolian ran at the last man with purpose and smashed a left-footed shot against the underside of the bar that only just bounced the wrong side of the goal-line as it came crashing down to earth.
The midpoint in the second half was Johnson’s cue to send on Abraham for Engvall, hoping to kill the tie for good.
But the hosts were not far away from an improbable equaliser with 18 minutes left as Long’s driven low cross cannoned off Aden Flint and into the side-netting.
Town boss Uwe Rosler threw on joint top scorers David Ball and Ashley Hunter, who have 20 goals between them this season, in a bid to force extra time.
But City should really have finished off the League One side when Paterson sliced wide after a loose ball ran kindly on to his left foot 15 yards out.
Fresh legs were introduced in the form of Callum O’Dowda and Josh Brownhill to help City over the line as Fleetwood began to apply late pressure.
The home team threw plenty of balls into the City box with time running out, while Abraham was not far wide as Johnson’s men pushed for a second, but Paterson’s solitary strike was enough to clinch a morale-boosting victory.
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