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Posted: Tuesday, February 23rd 2021
Tuesday, February 23rd 2021
Nigel Pearson watched from the stands as Bristol City ended their run of defeats with a thoroughly-deserved 3-1 win away at Middlesbrough.
City were in full attack mode early on and Famara Diédhiou would secure in his 50th goal for the club to open the scoring.
He doubled his tally and City’s lead by finishing a swift turnover of the play in midfield, before he turned provider for Nahki Wells. The pair were in inspirational form as City took a comfortable half-time lead.
The visitors were on course for an away clean sheet but as Boro threatened in the second half they eventually cut the deficit through Dael Fry’s close-range finish.
The result, City’s third win in a row at the Riverside Stadium, lifts the Robins to 12th in the Sky Bet Championship, ahead of Pearson’s first game in charge on Saturday against Swansea City.
Assistant Head Coaches Keith Downing and Paul Simpson oversaw this result, less than 24 hours after Pearson’s appointment as manager. He watched on from the stands as he got a first look at his squad prior to taking his first training session on Thursday.
Downing and Simpson named four changes to the team with the introductions of Tyreeq Bakinson, Ádám Nagy, Ryley Towler and Wells to the starting XI, while Taylor Moore, Antoine Semenyo and Steven Sessegnon were named on the bench. Sessegnon wouldn’t start to minimise any injury risk given he hasn’t played much competitive football after returning from injury against Barnsley. Henri Lansbury didn’t travel with the squad due to swelling in his Achilles tendon.
City’s forward play has come under question in recent weeks but they blew Boro away in an electric first-half on Teesside.
The front pairing of Diédhiou and Wells were in form and the pair combined with the latter seeing a shot cleared in front of the goal by Paddy McNair.
The Robins then came flying forward again with Diédhiou in the thick of the action. It was Towler’s clipped pass which Diédhiou flicked on to Palmer and the attacking midfielder ran into space while Diédhiou overlapped. Palmer found the striker who tried his luck with a first-time shot but Marcus Bettinelli turned it around the post.
However, the goalkeeper couldn’t get anywhere near a Diédhiou header as City deservedly opened the score inside the 21st minute. Jack Hunt saw an initial cross blocked but he was able to head the ball down for Nagy, whseo ball into the area was perfect this time for Diédhiou, who guided his header into the left corner and secure his half century of strikes for the Robins.
Boro looked a threat in what was an open game at times, but City were strong in defence too. Captain Tomas Kalas was showing his usual presence to block and clear at every opportunity and he produced a strong block to deny McNair.
The Robins wouldn’t give their hosts an opportunity to get level though and soon doubled their lead. City actually lost possession in midfield but Nagy stole it back immediately and in doing so the ball broke for Bakinson. His quick forward pass unleashed Wells, who cut inside and rolled the ball into the path of Diédhiou who pounced with a calm finish.
The Senegal striker would then turn from goalscorer to provider as his strike partner Wells grabbed a deserved goal of his own. Another clearance from Kalas was headed on by Diédhiou and Wells raced through on goal, taking a touch to take the ball slightly to the side of Bettinelli and roll the ball into the net for goal number three!
Neil Warnock would have expected his Boro side to bite back in the second half and they almost pulled a goal back shortly after the restart. A teasing cross from Neeskens Kebano had Bentley parrying and Duncan Watmore fluffed his shot in the box when the ball was cut back into his path.
In fairness City didn’t have the same attacking impetus but few could blame them as they looked to manage the game with a fairly comfortable lead.
That said, Boro wasted their chances as they looked for a way back into the match and Towler produced some top defending to deny Kebano. It was Watmore’s pass which looked for Kebano to tap home but the left-back got back in time to slide and put a stop to the danger.
Chuba Akpom then blazed over before City’s first change of the game as the fresh-legged Semenyo replaced Diédhiou with a little under 20 minutes remaining.
Boro continued to threaten though and almost scored direct from a corner but for Dan Bentley’s heroics to turn the ball on to the bar, however the attack was far from over and eventually Marvin Johnson steered a deflected cross into the path of Fry who pounced from close-range with ten minutes to go.
Now it was about City’s ability to keep the focus and hold on to their lead with Boro desperate to get forward. In doing so, Sessegnon came off the bench to replace Towler while Jamie Paterson replaced Palmer.
Wells eventually made way for Han-Noah Massengo and with a change in shape City kept Boro at bay, their final chance falling to George Saville who fired over in stoppage time.