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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: BRISTOL CITY

13 October 2017

A third successive goalless draw on the road was just what Albion needed to get their Championship campaign back on track at Ashton Gate as the free-scoring Robins had their wings clipped on home turf.

The goalless stalemate was also the second season in a row that the Brewers had left Ashton Gate with a share of the spoils from a nil-nil draw and continued Nigel Clough's run of never having tasted defeat as a manager at City's home.

Clear cut chances were few and far between for either side and for all their pressure in and around the Burton box keeper Stephen Bywater was only rarely called into action to make vital contributions.

After successive home defeats for Albion it was important to get back to solid defensive ways, as they have shown on the road in recent outings. Despite conceding goals at home in the previous two outings this was certainly an improved defensive display which meant that away from home it is now over a month ago, at Leeds United at the start of September, that the Albion defence has conceded in the league.

Bobby Reid twice forced saves from Bywater with City's best opportunities whilst Albion's best effort came late on through substitute Marvin Sordell as Aden Flint headed his goalbound effort away from danger.

For the first game back after the international break the Brewers starting line-up showed three changes to the team beaten by Wolves. Ben Turner was fit again after a hamstring problem meaning Tom Flanagan dropped to the bench as Stephen Warnock moved to left wingback to accommodate Turner's return to action. With John Brayford not quite fit enough to come back into the side Lucas Akins dropped in at right wing back and with Sean Scannell dropping to the bench it meant a new look attacking pairing as Joe Mason partnered Luke Varney up front.

A bright start from Albion led to an early chance to test City keeper Frank Fielding. Excellent pressure from Akins forced Joe Bryan into an error and Hope Akpan was able to send in a low cross that the ex-Derby keeper clung on to before Varney could get a toe to it.

Bristol quickly set about their task of continuing their excellent form from before the international break and it was Jamie Paterson looking to strike from distance on five minutes looking for the early settler. Whilst that effort may have been off target, curling comfortably over the bar, City were a lot closer moments later when Bobby Reid ghosted in behind and from a tight angle forced a save at his near post from Bywater, Famara Diedhiou denied from the rebound by the outstretched leg of skipper Jake Buxton.

Reid was almost in again on 13 minutes twisting and turning inside the box to shake off the attentions of Kuyle McFadzean but with a sight of goal, Bywater quickly shut the door at the near post to see off the threat from the livewire City forward.

Albion began to relieve some of the growing pressure when McFadzean burst out from defence with the ball at his feet and found Mason on the left. City's defence stood firm as the Brewers looked for the opportunity to test Fielding. A loose pass at the other end from Akpan as he looked to clear danger on the edge of the Burton box allowed Korey Smith to seize on a loose ball but his low, raking effort flew well wide of the target.

Luke Murphy required some lengthy treatment on 25 minutes after going down awkwardly in a challenge on the Burton left. The tackle was to prevent Reid scampering away and served its purpose as Albion regained possession before referee James Linington stopped proceedings for treatment to the influential Burton midfielder.

The Brewers again briefly threatened as the half hour approached with Varney able to send in a booming cross that was a touch heavy for anyone inside the box or indeed just beyond the far post.

Bristol were making it increasingly difficult for Albion to get out of their own half and when Josh Brownhill tried his luck from range the ball bounced awkwardly in front of Bywater forcing him into a sprawling save to put the ball behind for a corner.

On the stroke of half time City were forced into a substitution. Following a robust challenge in midfield Smith limped off gingerly to be replaced by Marlon Pack. The action had barely restarted when referee Linington brought the first half to a close. Albion were the more satisfied as they completed a fifth away 45 minutes without conceding a goal. Something to hopefully build on in the second half.

Half time: Bristol City 0 - 0 Burton Albion

Bristol had the first real chance of the second half six minutes in when McFadzean was penalised for a foul on Diedhiou just outside the penalty area. It looked set for a well worked routine as City had several men around the ball but in the end it was Paterson who floated his curled effort over the bar.

City made their second change just ten minutes after the break. Niclas Eliasson, who had been well marshalled in the first half, was the man to make was with West Bromwich Albion loanee Jonathan Leko sent on to try and inject some tempo into the home side.

Albion had a half chance to snatch the lead on 58 minutes when Varney went up for an aerial challenge and got a kindly bounce setting him up for a low drilled effort that had Fielding scrambling to make sure it went wide of the post.

Leko was certainly happy to take a direct approach and he was close to breaking the deadlock on 64 minutes with a jinking run into the area ending with a shot that deflected up and over the bar via the foot of Warnock. Championship Player Of The Month Aden Flint also saw his effort from the corner go over the bar. This time there was no deflection and Albion were able to clear from the safety of a goal kick.

The pressure was mounting on the Burton box and when Reid fired home on 65 minutes the home side thought they had the lead but referee Linington had already blown for a foul on Murphy on the edge of the area in the build up.

Burton's first change quickly followed and it was a straight swap in midfield as Akpan made way for Matty Lund. City made their final change with twenty minutes remaining with ex-Albion loanee Cauley Woodrow sent on to try and break the spirit of Clough's men.

Just prior to Woodrow's arrival on the pitch referee Linington had dished out the first yellow card of the evening in the direction of Turner. The big defender went into a more than robust challenge with the imposing Diedhiou that left the City striker writhing in some discomfort.

The substitutions continued apace as Sordell entered the fray in place of Mason in attack, the former Cardiff man having worked hard with little reward.

The game was becoming increasingly stretched as City pressed for the goal and possible win that would lift them into second place, albeit with the remainder of the division to play the following day. This allowed Albion some room to belatedly create chances and Sordell twice went close to snatching an unlikely lead. After a lung bursting run from his own half he exchanged passes with Lund before firing wide and following the introduction of Dyer late on for Varney it was Sordell who latched onto a superb pass from Dyer to get into the box and create a chance for himself that was only prevented from going into the top corner by an excellent headed intervention from Flint.

The frustrations of the home side were increasing as the clock ticked down, none more so that when Reid fashioned room on the edge of the box but his lofted effort ended up as neither a shot nor a cross to the jeers from the Ashton Gate faithful.

In the end there were four added minutes for Albion to negotiate and they did so with relative comfort to see out the game and grab another precious Championship point.


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