Report: Bristol City 2-0 Stoke City
Tuesday, September 19th 2017
City added another Premier League scalp to their repertoire in the Carabao Cup by overcoming a strong Stoke City at Ashton Gate.
Matty Taylor marked his first start of the season by providing the assist for Famara Diedhiou’s opener before slotting in the killer second.
Both goals came in the second half, although the hosts had more than shaded the first period, even though it was Stoke who went closest when Kurt Zouma headed an effort against the crossbar.
After an absence from round four of this competition since the late 1980s, City have now made it through in two successive seasons.
RINGING THE CHANGES
Lee Johnson opted to make nine changes for the cup tie, just as he had done for the previous round’s 3-2 success at Watford.
In comparison, Stoke made just six changes from the side that lost 2-1 at Newcastle United in the Premier League three days earlier.
Aden Flint and Marlon Pack were the only survivors from City’s weekend 4-1 drubbing of Derby County.
Luke Steele was handed his debut between the sticks, but he was as much a spectator as the other 13,826 inside Ashton Gate as City made an electric start.
CITY OUT OF THE TRAPS
In truth they should have been in front as early as the second minute when Kevin Wimmer left his back pass to Lee Grant short. Diedhiou, restored up front alongside Taylor, pounced on the loose ball but Grant recovered the situation with a smart save to divert the ball around the post.
From the resultant corner Josh Brownhill took aim from the edge of the box and Grant was again forced into action to tip the ball over his own crossbar.
The bright start continued as Taylor set Niclas Eliasson away down the right flank. The Swedish winger, making only his second start in a City shirt, cut inside and curled an effort wide of Grant’s right upright.
Charlie Adam slammed a shot high into the South Stand in the 17th minute from the visitors’ first real attack of the game, but they were soon on the back foot once more.
IRISH EYES SMILING
Callum O’Dowda sparked a dangerous counter-attack, evading a lunge from Adam in the process, before eventually being brought to ground 25 yards from goal by the Scotland international. From the free kick Hordur Magnusson curled a shot narrowly over the top.
When another O’Dowda charge was brought to a crashing end by a crude tackle from Bruno Martins Indi, referee Geoff Eltringham had lost patience and dished out the first yellow card. Magnusson took aim once more but this time it bounced harmlessly wide.
With half an hour on the clock, Eliasson sent a dangerous inswinging corner to the back stick where Magnusson nodded back across goal, again forcing Grant to divert the ball over his goal frame.
BIG CHANCES AT BOTH ENDS
The interval was approaching when the game suddenly burst into life. Ramadan fed a clever pass into the area for Erik Maxim Choupo-Moting to chase and his effort from an acute angle found Steele up to the task.
City raced up the other end and Diedhiou brilliant pass sent Taylor chasing towards goal. The former Forest Green forward took a touch to advance his position and slammed a shot into the side-netting under pressure from the retreating Glen Johnson.
The drama wasn’t done for the first half. Adam swung in a corner and Zouma met it with a firm header, sending the ball crashing against the bar and back into play.
If that wasn’t enough, a scramble in the box seconds later saw Flint clear from the line twice in quick succession.
The deadlock was broken just five minutes after half-time, and while it was Diedhiou’s name on the scoresheet, Taylor had a huge hand in the goal. A powerful header from Flint inadvertently set Taylor in the clear; he was unlucky not to score himself with a low shot against the inside of the post but Diedhiou followed up to head in the rebound.
The goal only seemed to provoke the visitors, who tested Steele through Adam’s low drive and then saw half-time substitute Saido Berahino swivel in the area and fire into the side-netting.
Ramadan should have equalised when he scampered away from Vyner but again Stoke were guilty of firing wide of the mark. And it cost them.
TAYLOR’S EYE FOR GOAL
The hard-working Taylor put City in the driving seat just after the hour, showing Ramadan exactly what he should have done moments earlier.
The backtracking Wimmer had no answer for Taylor, who shifted the ball on to his left boot and fired low across the keeper into the far corner for 2-0.
Flint almost slid in a third soon after but was unable to wrap his foot around Diedhiou’s shuffled cross along the six-yard box.
Back at the other end Steele remained alert to deny Choupo-Moting, whose driven shot from the edge of the box flashed through a crowd of bodies.
Eliasson and Diedhiou were removed; their job was done. On came Bristolian pair Joe Bryan and top scorer Bobby Reid.
CITY GO FOR MORE
But City weren’t sitting back. Instead Brownhill saw a gap in the defence and darted into the box to force Grant into a brilliant diving save. The Potters keeper recovered in time to keep out O’Dowda’s follow-up attempt as well.
Stoke were at sixes and sevens, leaving space for Bryan to dash down the left flank, cut into the area and drill a low shot inches wide of the far post.
Taylor got the standing ovation he deserved with two minutes left, allowing Korey Smith to finally shore things up for City, who deserved their clean sheet.
So that’s two Premier League teams out of the way…who’s next?
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