Wells fires up Holden’s perfect start but Stoke look toothless
Wells 45+2, Weimann 89
Having set about improving Stoke’s porous defence, manager Michael O’Neill now faces a fresh challenge as his side, with one goal from four games this season, struggles at the other end of the field.
Nahki Wells’s opportunist goal in first-half injury time was the first Stoke had conceded in the opening 315 minutes of the campaign but, by the time the impressive Andreas Weimann completed the scoring a minute from time, the hosts had long run out of ideas.
Indeed, Stoke failed to muster a single shot on target during this first defeat of the season and this performance was more in keeping with those that had them in the thick of the relegation fight until O’Neill turned their fortunes around.
“We’re in the early part of the season and brought players to the club who are adapting and still getting up to fitness,” said O’Neill. “I believe we’ve got enough options to be a threat at the attacking end.”
Bristol City’s forwards could certainly teach O’Neill’s a thing or two about finishing and an alert Wells might have scored after four minutes, pouncing on a poor Sam Clucas
Opener: Nahki Wells celebrates scoring Bristol City’s first goal just before half-time
back pass but being denied by Adam Davies. But Wells made no mistake later, however, when the Bermuda international latched onto a ball from Chris Martin and hooked it in from a tricky angle.
With Stoke never remotely troubling goalkeeper Dan Bentley or the Bristol defence, Weimann’s goal was largely academic, but deserved, as he dispossessed Danny Batth, exchanged passes with Antoine Semenyo and scored from 12 yards.
The win made it four out of four in league and cup games for Dean Holden’s team and left them as one of only three Championship teams with a 100 per cent record.
“Covid changed the world and you’ve got adapt,” said Holden. “We’re going to face problems every day – in the training environment, on match days – and you’ve got to be smart and find solutions to that.
“The day I got the job, I said the aim was to be at the top end of the Championship, we’ve got belief and this is a brilliant start. But that’s all it is – a start.”
O’Neill also confirmed that former England goalkeeper Jack Butland is likely to leave the club but declined to comment on reports that a swap deal with Southampton’s Angus Gunn is imminent.
Stoke (5-3-2) Davies 7; Smith 7, Chester 6, Batth 6, Martins Indi 6 (Tymon 79), Fox 6; Powell 6, Mikel 6, Clucas 7; Brown 6 (Campbell 65), Vokes 5 (Fletcher 45). Subs Butland, Oakley-Boothe, Thompson, Collins. Booked Powell.
Bristol City (5-3-2) Bentley 7; Hunt 7, Vyner 6, Moore 6, Mawson 6, Rowe 7; Paterson 7 (Brunt 75), Bakinson 7, Weimann 9; Wells 7 (Diedhiou 82), Martin 7 (Semenyo 75). Subs O’Leary, Eliasson, Sessegnon, Palmer. Booked Paterson.
Referee Oliver Langford 7 (West Midlands).