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13 February 2016

Pitman on target but Town rue first-half City goals

Town paid the price for conceding two identical goals from corners in the first-half at Ashton Gate. 

Aden Flint headed his side in front on 19 minutes and then repeated the feat from Luke Freeman’s brilliant delivery before the break. 

Daryl Murphy twice went close to cutting the arrears and substitute Brett Pitman did just that against his former club just after the hour with his ninth goal of the season.

Tommy Smith almost gave Blues a point with a header in added on time but the ball drifted just wide of the post and with it when Town’s chance of grabbing something from the game.

Ben Pringle was handed his debut after joining on loan from Fulham 24 hours earlier, Kevin Foley also making his first appearance for Town in a number of changes to the side that went down at QPR last weekend, with Blues starting with three at the back and five in midfield. 

Pringle was immediately in the action, seeing a left foot strike blocked, the midfielder then finding space down the left, his cross just evading Freddie Sears in the box.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ corner skimmed off Murphy’s head, while at the other end Kevin Bru was in the right place to cancel out Scott Golbourne’s pass aimed at Lee Tomlin.

It took an unbelievable save from Bart Bialkowski to keep Town level just past the 15 minute mark, Korey Smith’s strike taking a big deflection that looked certain to beat the Polish ‘keeper until he somehow diverted the ball over the bar.

City weren’t denied four minutes later though, Flint glancing a header from Freeman’s corner into the net. 

Sears responded for Town with a snap shot two yards wide, the busy Smith for City then showing neat footwork to create space before sending a right foot curler just wide.

City ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell got lucky when his clearance cannoned back off Maitland-Niles but spun behind to safety, Marlon Pack rifling just wide for the home side moments later.

Sears set up Pringle, who saw another shot blocked, Foley then drifted behind the City defence but his cross was cleared before Tommy Smith finished off a spell of pressure for Blues with a strike over the bar.

City extended their lead on 35 minutes with a carbon copy of the opener, Freeman’s wickedly hit corner headed in at the near post superbly by Flint.

Bristol, full of confidence, threatened a third, Korey Smith and Tomlin prominent as they swarmed around the Town box, Luke Chambers clearing when Jonathan Kodjia looked to strike from close range.

Pack’s pass was overhit when Kodjia would have been through on goal as the first-half came to an end with the hosts in command.

Pitman was introduced as Town’s first change, with Maitland-Niles making way early in the second-half, Kodjia having the first effort in anger after the break, his shot deflected to safety by Smith. 

O’Donnell palmed Murphy’s blistering strike behind for a corner, Chambers heading over from the flagkick as Blues looked for a way back into the game.

It took an even better save from O’Donnell to keep out Murphy’s header, Pitman inches away from forcing the ball in from the rebound. 

Pitman did find the net though just past the hour, Murphy knocking the ball on and the summer signing from Bournemouth finishing with his left foot.

City made a double change with Tomlin and Kodjia replaced by Kieran Agard and Aaron Wilbraham as Lee Johnson freshened up their attack.

Bialkowski was quick off his line to clear from Pack’s excellent pass, Town then making a second change with Luke Varney on for Pringle.

The Town ‘keeper got down well to save from Agard, Korey Smith then allowed too much time and space before firing inches wide of Town’s far post.

Jonas Knudsen did superbly to force Korey Smith’s cross behind when a goal looked certain after the City skipper had linked up with Agard.

Tommy Smith was agonisingly wide with a 20 yarder and the New Zealand international threatened an equaliser in added on time but his header landed the wrong side of the post as Lee Johnson celebrated a winning start as City manager and Blues drifted to three points off the Play-Offs.

Bristol City: O'Donnell, Little, Flint, Baker, Golbourne, Pack, Smith, Tomlin (Agard 63), Bryan (Wagstaff 87), Freeman, Kodjia (Wilbraham 63). Subs not used: Fielding, Vyner, Pearce, Reid.

Town: Bialkowski, Foley (Toure 89), Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Pringle (Varney 67), Maitland-Niles (Pitman 52), Bru, Sears, Murphy. Subs not used: Henly, Digby, Kenlock, Tabb. Booked: Foley.
Att: 15, 736



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