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Robins rewind: 2014/15 season review part five

November may have seen a dip in form with back-to-back defeats in Sky Bet League One, but City retained their status as table toppers as December rolled round.

The month started with the FA Cup second round and AFC Telford’s trip to Ashton Gate. They may have been 71 places below the Robins but it was a gutsy performance from the non-league side who were beaten at the death by Kieran Agard’s strike.

It was the first of three home games in a row with Coventry City up next in midweek.

And City cemented their place in the southern area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with this 2-0 win; the hosts rarely troubled as headed goals from Derrick Williams and Aaron Wilbraham secured a two-legged affair with Gillingham for a place at Wembley.

 

League action returned for the visit of Crawley Town where City left it late thanks to Luke Ayling’s priceless winner three minutes from time.

They had started well but couldn’t capitalise on their dominance, as Crawley proved a tough nut to crack.

However, patience would be key and eventually the breakthrough was made when another Luke Freeman corner found Ayling whose striker-esque finish snatched the three points in the 1-0 win,

But they came unstuck away to Crewe Alexandra the following Saturday. The hosts were indebted to a couple of outstanding first-half saves from Ben Garratt before Derrick Williams was dismissed seven minutes after the interval for a second yellow card.

It was a decision which changed the course of the game and Crewe grew in confidence in front of their own fans, culminating in Jamie Ness striking a spectacular 73rd minute winner as bottom side Crewe secured the shock result against the league leaders.

It was a result which meant City would have to share their spot at the top with MK Dons. The sides were now locked on 42 points each, had both conceded 20 goals though City had scored 11 more than their promotion-chasing rivals.

But they quickly followed up the disappointing result with wins over Yeovil Town and Gillingham to restore their place as league leaders at the turn of the calendar year.

 

City held on to the 2-1 victory over Gary Johnson’s Yeovil who were very much up against it in the first half, though only Matt Smith’s first City goal separated the sides.

Agard saw a penalty saved though substitute Jay Emmanuel Thomas made no mistake from the spot to double the lead. Ben Nugent’s low drive made for a nervy finish but there would be no happy return for Johnson to BS3 on Boxing Day.

The final outing of 2014 saw a trip to Gillingham. This would be Steve Cotterill’s second of five unbeaten meetings with the Gills this season (they clashed in the FA Cup, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final – which we will get to - as well as the league).

 

A dominant first-half performance laid the foundations for Bristol City to run out comfortable winners over relegation-threatened Gillingham.

Williams returned from a one-match ban but it was a Matt Smith brace which helped City on their way, producing some of their best football of the season.

Cody McDonald halved the deficit immediately after the break, but Scott Wagstaff wrestled the momentum back in City’s favour with a fine curling shot after 55 minutes.

Cotterill would have been hoping for more of the same when his team return to Kent for the first leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final in nine days’ time…