Live: Bristol City v Middlesbrough
Posted: Tuesday, October 20th 2020
Monday, April 6th 2020
City were unbeaten in Sky Bet League One after 15 games, with a League Cup first round exit back in August the only dent in the campaign to date.
A familiar face
Oldham Athletic, under the management of former City midfielder and future head coach Lee Johnson, were next to try their hand at the league leaders. They themselves had only lost twice in the first three months of the campaign and were among those battling for a top six position.
They arrived in BS3 in good form and it was an intense, fast pace battle in which City snuck a 1-0 victory. Steve Cotterill will have been much happier with the defensive side of his team’s display after back-to-back 2-2 draws, not to mention the inventiveness of Kieran Agard’s superb 57th minute winner.
A vast number of chances went begging in this one and Agard’s second half audacious chip came agonisingly close to a goal of the season contender
But he would strike the vital goal. As Wade Elliott held the ball aloft after Luke Freeman was fouled 30 yards from goal, the smart money looked to be on a chip towards the far post as Aden Flint ran around the back.
But instead Elliott’s kick was short into Aaron Wilbraham, whose first time pass around the corner freed Agard off the back of the Oldham wall, who took a touch and slotted the ball just inside the far post.
Attentions then turned to the FA Cup where City managed to hold on against Gillingham at Priestfield.
The visitors were in complete control throughout a first half in which Greg Cunningham headed City into a deserved lead five minutes before the interval.
The second period would prove a closer affair, although Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ placed shot from distance looked set to kill the game as a contest 13 minutes from the end.
Danny Kedwell’s ruthlessly dispatched penalty four minutes later left City temporarily on the back foot, but a late storm was weathered to ensure a safe passage into the second round.
The visit of AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night saw City reach the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern area semi-finals despite a low key display against Sky Bet League Two visitors.
But it was a consecutive 2-1 win for the Robins, thanks to Wilbraham’s quick-fire double late on.
George Francomb’s stunning long-range strike threw the Dons a lifeline and Frank Fielding’s save from a Francomb free kick at the death prevented their chances of penalties.
Sunk at Swindon
So City would march on in the JPT but as attentions turned back to the league, their 16-game unbeaten run was about to come to an end.
Unfortunately, that invincible streak was to come away at the hands of local rivals Swindon Town. City had scored in every game except one – a 0-0 draw v Leyton Orient in August but Wade Elliott’s controversial early red card allow Town to steal maximum points in the M4 derby through Michael Smith’s 78th minute winner.
City then fell to a second 1-0 defeat in eight days, losing at home in the league for the first time since February in the process.
Callum Robinson’s 28th minute goal was enough for fellow promotion hopefuls Preston North End, who turned in a disciplined away performance to end a three-game losing streak of their own.
City pressed and pressed for an equaliser, but the Lilywhites had all the answers and keeper Thorsten Stuckmann was rarely troubled in the visiting goal, with City’s lead at the top of League One now cut to just a point.
But there was light at the end of November as City found form on the road, dispatching Peterborough United 3-0 at the ABAX Stadium.
Freeman scored the first of his brace with an early opener before Wilbraham headed home a stunning Joe Bryan cross five minutes later.
City were completely untroubled from start to finish and Freeman added his second after the interval with a low shot to give the scoreline a deservedly one-sided look.
The result meant the Robins headed into December still top of the tree, but with six points dropped in back-to-back defeats, the likes of MK Dons, Swindon Town and Preston North End were as hot on their heels as ever.
City would also be boosted by the loan arrivals of Todd Kane (Chelsea) and Matt Smith (Fulham) this month, as the festive part of the season arrived.
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