Tomlin controversial penalty sends Town on the way to defeat at Ashton Gate
Lee Tomlin netted from the spot on the half hour after Bart Bialkowski was found guilty of catching Tammy Abraham six yards out.
David McGoldrick was denied an equaliser after the break by the feet of Frank Fielding and then the post before Luke Freeman fizzed in a second for the hosts with a fantastic volley from the edge of the box.
Town pressed for a lifeline and Fielding saved from Freddie Sears but couldn’t find a way to goal as Blues’ inconsistent season continued.
Town stayed with the same side that beat QPR last weekend, with Cole Skuse making his first return to Ashton Gate since joining Blues from Bristol City in the summer of 2013.
The midfielder was immediately in the action, clearing from inside his box after Abraham looked for an early strike at goal.
Moments later Aaron Wilbraham did find enough space to have a crack but his shot was high over Bialkowski’s bar, the Robins skipper then earning a yellow card after catching Christophe Berra with a late challenge.
Tom Lawrence provided Town’s first attacking threat, firing into the sidenetting after Adam Webster had found him down the left with a lofted pass.
McGoldrick sliced through the City defence but his shot was deflected comfortably into Fielding’s hands, the Republic of Ireland then linking up well with Lawrence but his cross was cleared by Aden Flint before Luke Varney had his effort smothered away from danger.
It was City who took the lead on the half hour though, referee Stuart Attwell took a long time before pointing to the spot, having judged Bialkowski to have brought down Abraham and Tomlin sent his penalty into the bottom corner.
Webster deflected Tomlin’s strike over as City pressed for a second, Flint going down in the box from a corner as the home side pleaded for a penalty before Abraham showed quick feet to weave past two Blues, his shot blocked.
Grant Ward pulled his shot wide after Webster had again opened up the space with a run from deep, McGoldrick then denied by a touch from Scott Golbourne at the far post.
Abraham headed over after a clever touch from Tomlin as the Robins went into the break that goal up.
Lawrence won an early free-kick on the edge of the City box as the second-half got underway but Fielding plucked the Wales international’s delivery out of the air at the far post.
McGoldrick was inches away from an equaliser on 54 minutes, his right foot shot deflected onto the post by Fielding after Skuse had released him inside the City box.
At the other end, Luke Chambers headed Freeman’s dangerous cross to safety, Tomlin then trying to catch Bialkowski off his line with an effort from just inside Blues’ half but to no avail.
Town made a double change midway through the second-half with Leon Best and Sears replacing Varney and Grant Ward.
Freeman headed wide from Golbourne’s cross as City threatened a second, then Jonas Knudsen sent a fierce cross well over when in a good position as Blues responded.
It was City who struck though in sensational style, Freeman latching on to the cleared ball and volleying superbly into the net from 25 yards.
Freeman then turned creator with a terrific run down the right before finding Abraham who sent a right footer towards the bottom corner but Bialkowski intervened.
Jonny Williams replaced Lawrence in Town’s final change, Tomlin sending a right foot screamer wide, then Fielding saving from Sears lowdown.
City held on for the win though as Town went down at Ashton Gate for a third successive game.
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