Brett Pitman's brilliant goal gives Town a winning end to 2016
The former Bristol City striker got on the end of Freddie Sears’ cross to divert the ball into the net and give Blues a winning end to 2016.
Town had led at the break through Kevin Bru’s first goal of the season but City were level six minutes into the second-half after Tammy Abraham converted from close range.
Sears twice went close to putting Town back in front but the game looked to be heading for a draw until Pitman had the Portman Road faithful on their feet with his fourth goal of the campaign.
Bru was one of four changes to the side that went down to Fulham on Boxing Day, with Grant Ward, David McGoldrick and Myles Kenlock also coming in.
Lee Tomlin showed his trickery to win a free-kick 35 yards out in the first real action of the game, Bart Bialkowski gathering Josh Brownhill’s strike.
Abraham was blocked out by Adam Webster, then at the other end Tom Lawrence made in-roads into the Robins’ box before Hordur Magnusson cleared.
Frank Fielding had to be alert to clear from McGoldrick, Pitman then finding some space down the right, his cross cleared as Blues began to create some momentum, McGoldrick sending a left footer just wide.
Abraham had a clear chance on goal though moments later but Luke Chambers’ challenge did enough to quell the danger.
Ward and McGoldrick linked up well, the Republic of Ireland international fizzing a cross beyond the supporting Blues, Luke Freeman missing his shot completely as Bristol responded.
Brownhill tested Bialkowski from distance before Town got the breakthrough on 38 minutes, Lawrence whipped in a vicious cross and Bru diverted the ball in from eight yards.
Tomlin fired at Bialkowski as the Robins looked for an immediate response but the Town ‘keeper held firm to see Blues through to the break.
Bristol made a double change at half-time, with Taylor Moore and Joe Bryan on for Mark Little and Scott Golbourne.
Freeman’s strike was deflected wide by Christophe Berra in the first opening of the second-half, Tomlin seeing his shot diverted to safety as City started on the front foot and the visitors were level on 51 minutes, Abraham forcing the ball home after Blues had failed to deal with Freeman’s cross.
Town had a chance to regain the lead immediately, Lawrence’s free-kick from the edge of the box headed back in by Berra and Ward’s follow up header was held by Fielding.
Blues were inches away from finding the net on the hour, Chambers’ header deflected off Marlon Pack and on to the bar, Pitman unable to force the rebound into the net.
City were forced into a third change midway through the half with the injured Magnusson replaced by Callum O’Dowda.
Lawrence forced Fielding into action with a right foot bullet after Ward had found him in the box, Town making a first change with Andre Dozzell on for Bru.
Abraham volleyed over from just inside the box, then Lawrence stung Fielding’s hands with a right foot shot, McGoldrick almost converting at the near post.
Sears replaced Ward for the closing stages and the substitute almost scored with his first touch, Bryan clearing off the line after Aden Flint had diverted the ball past Fielding.
A terrific pass from Dozzell saw Sears have another chance from eight yards but he couldn’t make it count, McGoldrick sliding the ball wide after Dozzell had been prominent in the move again.
The winner came in sensational style four minutes from time, Lawrence and Sears combining down the right and Pitman found the bottom corner with a superb finish.
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