Live: Bristol City v Middlesbrough
Posted: Tuesday, October 20th 2020
Thursday, April 16th 2020
With a Wembley occasion on the horizon, City still had the league to focus on and an action-packed February to get through...
Their progression in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy meant fixtures had to be rescheduled and so it had been 15 days since their last league outing before Sky Bet League One returned to Ashton Gate.
More than 11,600 fans turned up to see City dispatch Fleetwood Town 2-0 with Matt Smith picking up where had left off last month by heading the Robins in front and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas doubled the lead with a late second on the break.
But all eyes would be on City's top-of-the-table clash away to MK Dons on February 7th.
A fixture full of goals in its brief history was short on clear chances throughout though City were backed by more than 5,000 supporters in the away end on this day, making it their biggest away day following since the famous win at Anfield in 1994.
It might have ended a stalemate but City continued their perfect defensive league record since the turn of the year with this significant clean sheet at the home of their nearest title challengers.
The goals may have been nonexistent at MK Dons but it was a different turn of events when City ran out comfortable victors over Port Vale at Ashton Gate to move four points clear at the top with a game in hand.
Steve Cotterill's side were far from their best until Jay Emmanuel-Thomas fired them in front on 34 minutes but then they never looked back.
Joe Bryan’s heavily deflected shot doubled the advantage on the hour before Smith cashed in on a sloppy backpass to make the game safe.
Mark Marshall reduced the deficit with a late consolation strike, but City could reflect on another job well done in the first of three home games on the spin.
However, City would slip to two defeats from their next three games, the first at home to Sheffield United (1-3), followed by defeat away to Colchester United (2-3). The loss to the Blades was City's first home league defeat since November in which Smith pounced with his 13 goal in as many games.
There was better fortune in midweek however, as City saw off Peterborough United 2-0 in BS3, thanks to goals from Aden Flint and Kieran Agard.
But the loss at Colchester would be backed by wins over Doncaster Rovers and Rochdale as City ended the month of February on a high. In fact, it would be their final taste of defeat going forward for the remainder of the season!
Doncaster had held City to a 1-1 scoreline at the Keepmoat Stadium in January, earning an FA Cup third round replay in the process with Cotterill disappointed by his side's display. But this a comprehensive display in South Yorkshire.
City went in at the interval two goals to the good courtesy of Luke Freeman and Greg Cunningham, who converted from the penalty spot after Kieran Agard was brought down.
Doncaster substitute Curtis Main reduced the deficit with a stunning long-range strike shortly before the hour mark, but Aaron Wilbraham ensured City would strengthen their position at the top of Sky Bet League One with his 14th goal of the season to complete the scoring on 69 minutes.
Aaron Wilbraham then struck the decisive blow with a brilliantly taken header from a 14th minute Luke Freeman corner in an ugly 1-0 win over Rochdale.
It was a rare piece of quality in a match starved of invention, but Frank Fielding stood firm when called upon to record a significant clean sheet against his former club, not least in tipping one Peter Vincenti header away from goal early in the second half.
City had come through a demanding February relatively unscathed and now they could turn their focus to March with the wonders of Wembley edging ever closer.
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