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Video: Red Card A Game Changer - Cotterill

Steve Cotterill described the red card brandished to Luke Freeman “a game changer” after City were beaten at home for the first time in six months by a clinical Brentford side.

The return of Sky Bet Championship football to Ashton Gate could hardly have got off to a better start as home debutant Jonathan Kodjia broke the deadlock inside two minutes.

Alan Judge equalised soon afterwards but Aaron Wilbraham headed City back in front before Freeman was dismissed after catching Bees defender Harlee Dean with a high foot despite having his eyes fixed on the ball.

The hosts were unable to hang on to their lead until the interval as Derrick Williams put through his own net, and Brentford further capitalised on their numerical advantage with second-half strikes from Andre Gray and Philipp Hofmann.

"The red card was a game changer,” Cotterill told Bristol City Player HD.

"Luke wasn't even looking at him. He has caught him but there was no intent to do so."

"Suddenly it was a different game for us with a man less only 35 minutes in.”

Some of City’s football before Freeman was penalised had been sparkling, with Joe Bryan tormenting the visitors down the left flank.

"In that first 35 minutes it could have been 5-1,” the manager continued. “We just needed more goals in that period.

"Without 11 men you can't be as expansive. It's so difficult against a good team still with a nucleus of players from last year.

"They're a good team and they were able to make 11 changes today.

"It's a learning process but you need to be fit, and at the moment we've got lads who aren't up to speed yet."

Meanwhile, Cotterill confirmed his pursuit of Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle is over.