Report: Bristol City 2-3 Sheffield United
Sunday, May 6th 2018
Bristol City couldn’t quite complete a remarkable comeback as they fell to a final day 3-2 loss at home to Sheffield United.
Leon Clarke fired the visitors ahead with a top-corner strike from 25-yards, while two quick-fire volleys from Billy Sharp and Kieron Freeman gave the Blades a 3-0 half-time lead.
But the home side were much improved after the break, with Aden Flint’s header on the hour-mark followed up by Joe Bryan’s exquisite free kick.
Despite Lee Johnson’s attacking changes in the second half, City were unable to force an equaliser before the full-time whistle saw the curtains close on their Sky Bet Championship campaign.
Niclas Eliasson and Josh Brownhill were restored to Lee Johnson’s starting XI, with Liam Walsh moved to the bench and Nathan Baker ruled out through concussion sustained a week earlier. Youngsters Antoine Semenyo, a former SGS College student, and Tyreeq Bakinson were also named on the City bench. Elsewhere, Bobby Reid helped make up the City attack as he went in search of claiming the Championship Golden Boot award.
There were early signs of attacking intent from both sides as they basked in the spring sunshine at BS3: Frank Fielding was called into action early when he had to back pedal and claw away Ryan Leonard’s deep swung corner, while at the other end Famara Diédhiou guided a tame header on goal which was no trouble for Simon Moore in the Sheffield United goal.
But the away side took the lead with a goal out of nothing. Leon Clarke received the ball 30 yards from goal before dribbling unchallenged and picking out the top right corner for his 19th goal of the season.
The Blades were enjoying more possession after the restart but there was no penetrable threat for the time being. A brief pause in play followed shortly after the goal, when Diédhiou and Richard Stearman clashed heads but concerns were quickly put to bed with the players allowed to resume.
But by now City were getting themselves on the ball a lot more and Diédhiou looked to cause a problem down the right-wing as he controlled Lloyd Kelly’s chipped through ball, but the Senegalese forward fell just as he tried to jink the ball beyond his marker as he bore down on Moore’s goal.
The Blades keeper then raced off his line to smother the ball at Reid’s feet as the City Academy graduate latched on to a similar sweeping pass from Marlon Pack.
But the away team then struck twice in three minutes with well-taken volleys from Sharp and Freeman. John Fleck twisted and turned out of trouble inside his own half before pinging a diagonal ball to Sharp, who crashed the ball beyond Fielding via the crossbar with a half-volley.
However, anything Sharp can do Freeman could do better as he tucked away a volley of his own after another diagonal ball, this time from Clarke.
That’s not to say City had given up on this half, as Paterson went close with a header before Reid raced on to Korey Smith’s through ball but rolled a first-time shot narrowly wide of the far post as they sought a way back into the game.
IMPROVED AFTER THE BREAK
Johnson brought World Cup-bound Hordur Magnusson on in place of Paterson, while Niclas Eliasson was substituted for Irish winger Callum O’Dowda a short while later.
The fresh legs of O’Dowda down the right side with a more attack-minded Bryan down the left looked to give City more confidence going forward, with the Blades a lot more contained.
City did finally pulled a goal back as Flint’s 60th-minute header guided the ball through a crowded penalty area and beyond Moore from a Brownhill corner.
And the match looked poised for an interesting end as Bryan made it 3-2. Reid was fouled as he tried racing on to an O’Dowda through ball and up stepped Bryan with a free kick which he dispatched expertly into the top right corner.
CITY FIGHT FOR A THIRD
City now had their tails up and crowd almost witnessed the equaliser moments later, as Reid tried to pick out the bottom corner but for a good save from Moore.
Antoine Semenyo made his debut from the bench as a 79th-minute substitute, while in front of the Atyeo Stand, Clarke couldn’t find a teammate with a drilled pass across the face of Fielding’s goal.
The result means City finish the season 11th in the Championship, their highest finish in the division since 2010.
The 2018/19 campaign gets underway on August 4th, with fixtures for the upcoming season due for release on June 21st.