Bristol City 2:0 Leicester City
City had a fruitless trip to Ashton Gate but Sven Goran Eriksson must be wondering how his side failed to take something from a game that they dominated for long periods but couldn’t turn that possession in to goals.
City were unchanged from the side that saw off Derby seven days earlier with Oakley returning to the bench after an injury lay-off. It was City who dominated the first half from the first kick with neat possession football and long spells in the Bristol half.
King had City’s first worthwhile effort after ten minutes when James was alert to gather his shot following a corner. City’s best chance, however, came after twenty minutes when James needlessly floored King as he broke through but was running away from goal. It was a clear penalty but Howard’s straight, driven kick was stopped by James’s legs as he dived to the right. This gave the home side a lift, who up until that point had been under the cosh and feeling the heat from their own fans.
It was City who continued to make the best chances though with Gallagher having the best of those with a header that drifted just wide with James beaten for once. Not until seven minutes before half time did Bristol finally manage a shot on goal when Stead fired wide when well placed. There was an uneasy feeling amongst the 1,700 or so City faithful at half time; so much possession but nothing to show for it.
The second half started in the same vein with City opening up the Bristol defence again and again, Gallagher again coming close with a fierce shot and King a real handful for the beleaguered Bristol back line who were also struggling to cope with the aerial threat of Howard who once again led the line superbly. But, incredibly, it was the Robins that broke the deadlock just before the hour when a free kick close to the corner flag was pulled back for a woefully unmarked Pitman to side-foot the ball home with Wellens just failing to prevent the ball from crossing the line. This seemed to be the cue for City’s game to come apart and Bristol grew stronger and more confident as City became more frustrated.
City continued to create corners and chances but Howard was denied by James twice in close succession and the former England ‘keeper was having a magnificent afternoon.
Sven made changes in an attempt to turn things around but to no avail: Dyer for Vassell, Oakley for King (who worryingly pulled up with a hamstring problem) and then Fryatt for Howard who (along with every City fan behind the goal) was astonished to see his number on the board and made it clear that he was not best pleased.
City’s best chances from then on fell to Cunningham who had a clear sight of goal but fired over, and then Waghorn snatched at a gilt-edged chance inside the area but blazed over when it looked easier to hit the target.
Bristol now looked capable of holding on to their lead and they even managed to double it during stoppage time when Chris Weale threw the ball out wide, aiming for Gallagher, and found the feet of Clarkson who lifted the ball back over the back-pedalling Weale and in to the unguarded net. It was a farcical end to the game and City fans headed for the exit wondering how they lost a game that they controlled for most of the afternoon.
It is hard to single out poor performances because the side ticked over beautifully and kept the ball with some lovely passing football but failed to take their chances and conceded two soft goals at the other end. City urgently need a cutting edge and a spark in the final third that will reward the excellent build-up play and until they do then we will experience a few more frustrating games like this one.
Bristol: James, Fontaine, McAllister, Ribeiro, Caulker, Elliott, Skuse, Johnson (Pitman 46), Rose, Adomah (Cisse 86), Stead (Clarkson 65). Subs Not Used: Campbell-Ryce, Gerken, Stewart, Haynes.
Leicester: Weale, Davies, Hobbs, Naughton, King (Waghorn 71), Abe, Wellens, Cunningham, Gallagher, Vassell (Dyer 62), Howard (Fryatt 80). Subs Not Used: Berner, Logan, Oakley, Morrison.
Referee: C Pawson (West Yorkshire). Attendance: 14,517.