- English Football League - Championship
- Tuesday, January 1st 2019
- bet365 Stadium
James Crawley reports from bet365 Stadium
Report: Stoke City 0-2 Bristol City
Tuesday, January 1st 2019
Bristol City secured their first away win on New Year’s Day for 116 years, with a 2-0 victory against Stoke City.
Famara Diédhiou’s first-half header had the beating of Jack Butland, before Callum O’Dowda wrapped up a hard-fought and well-earned three points late on.
Niki Mäenpää had been the earlier hero when he saved Benik Afobe’s sixth-minute penalty, while Bailey Wright later came off the bench to mark his first competitive appearance in nine months.
City had their fair share of defending to do but frustrated the hosts all afternoon and were thoroughly deserving of the clean sheet as they began the new year in perfect fashion.
Tuesday's win sees City occupy 11th in the Sky Bet Championship, five points from the play-offs.
Lee Johnson named two changes for the trip to Bet365 Stadium, with Lloyd Kelly and Andreas Weimann restored to the starting XI ahead of Jay Dasilva and Hakeeb Adelakun, respectively.
Head clash stops play
The game was stopped just minutes after it got started, when Adam Webster and Marlon Pack collided. The pair required treatment but both were able to continue following assessment.
City were pegged back though, once the ball was active and a penalty was awarded moments later when Bruno Martins Indi was tripped by a trailing leg. However, Mäenpää guessed correctly and beat the ball away to his left to deny Afobe from 12 yards, much to the applause of the near 1,000 travelling fans in the stand behind him.
While, the home side would boast more possession early on, the Potters almost allowed City in behind. Jamie Paterson finished a strong run by finding Diédhiou unmarked to his right, where one touch would have set the Senegal frontman with the opportunity to shoot, but his first touch got away from him as the chance petered out.
At the other end, James McClean skipped past a number of players in purple and green before firing wide and Mäenpää got his body behind a curling effort from Joe Allen as the visitors were forced to show their defensive abilities against the former Premier League side.
And Mäenpää was quick off his line when Allen’s eye-of-the-needle disguised pass almost picked out Tom Ince, but the City keeper was quickest to the loose ball.
Wright would be introduced when Webster’s head injury appeared to worsen, with the cub captain making his first competitive appearance since April.
And instantly City were on the attack. Paterson spread the play to Jack Hunt who turned away from his marker before delivering a pinpoint cross for Diédhiou, whose header - his seventh goal of the season - guided the ball into the Stoke net.
It was just the reward after a long spell of solid defending and Wright was called into action shortly after, to head away an Afobe effort from under his own crossbar.
Pack would have City’s final chance of the half but dragged his shot wide, while the hosts continued to threaten with Mäenpää in inspired form to deny efforts from Peter Etebo and Allen before the break.
Peter Crouch would be Gary Rowett’s first change of the game, as the home side looked for balls into the wide areas but still City looked a defensive unit. Their lead did look under threat when McClean looked for a more direct approach, dancing his way into the penalty area before Wright timed his tackle to allow City to break.
Crouch did have a chance but saw a header blocked before another break in play when Mäenpää required treatment after a collision.
Perfecting the gameplan
With 20 minutes left on the clock, now it was about the pre-match messages and finding the way to ensure City wouldn’t let their lead slip.
Instead the lead was doubled as the Robins executed the gameplan to perfection. Callum O’Dowda made the most of a mix up inside the Stoke penalty area, powering the ball into the empty net after Butland’s attempted clearance, right in front of the bouncing away support.
Matty Taylor and Adelakun brought fresh legs to help see out the game in the final 10 minutes, with the full-time whistle stretching City’s unbeaten run to eight games.
City host Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup on Saturday (January 5th, 5.30pm KO).
- Bruno Martins Indi, Ryan Woods, Benik Afobe
- Diedhiou (39') , O'Dowda (81')
- Adam Webster, Andreas Weimann, Jamie Paterson