The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Richard Latham

STEVE COT­TER­ILL had a pleas­ant sur­prise for any City play­ers who might have ex­pected a roast­ing over the loss of two points.

“I’ve never been more proud of them,” en­thused the manager. “They never stopped try­ing to win the game and their en­ergy level af­ter so many games this sea­son is un­be­liev­able.

“We bat­tered Gilling­ham in the sec­ond half and I can’t be­lieve we haven’t won the game.You have to give them credit for the way they de­fended, but the ball just would not drop right for us to­day.

“I have said many times this sea­son that we have some­thing spe­cial at our club.

“Some­times, you don’t know what to feel af­ter a home draw, but this time I feel noth­ing but pride.

“Gilling­ham’s aim was to avoid de­feat. I don’t blame them for that and I am sure they are de­lighted with their ef­forts.

“We got some great balls into their box and just couldn’t ap­ply the fin­ish­ing touch. In all other ways, it was a re­ally good per­for­mance.”

A brave goal-sav­ing block by cen­tre-back John Egan, to keep out a shot from sub­sti­tute Jay Em­manuel-Thomas as in­jury-time ap­proached, summed up Gilling­ham’s heroic de­fend­ing.

The run­away League One lead­ers bom­barded them as the game went on. But, when City did cre­ate clear open­ings, Aaron Wil­bra­ham glanced a header just wide, while Luke Ayling and Luke Free­man fired over.

The in­tro­duc­tion of Em­manuel-Thomas with 15 min­utes left gave Cot­ter­ill’s men more pen­e­tra­tion, but Stu­art Nel­son de­nied him with a smart save – and there was al­ways a body in the way in a crowded box.

The best first-half chance fell to Gilling­ham’s Bradley Dack as early as the fourth minute when he shot wide at the far post from a Joe Martin cor­ner.

Joe Bryan of­fered the main threat for City but couldn’t sum­mon up the end prod­uct to match some promis­ing ap­proach play.

In a fran­tic fin­ish, ref­eree David Webb had to stay strong in the face of loud penalty ap­peals from home fans, who could take con­so­la­tion from their team reach­ing the 80-point mark for the sea­son with nine games still to go.

Gills boss Justin Ed­in­burgh said: “We came here be­liev­ing we could get some­thing and ev­ery player con­trib­uted. It was a tremen­dous team ef­fort.

“We were play­ing the cham­pi­ons-elect. Bris­tol City are not where they are by ac­ci­dent and they made life very dif­fi­cult for us in the sec­ond half.

“But we kept get­ting bod­ies in the way and ac­tu­ally had a few op­por­tu­ni­ties to hit them on the counter-attack.

“I am re­ally en­joy­ing work­ing with this group of play­ers, and a dis­play like this shows what we are about.

“It re­quired a lot of ef­fort from ev­ery in­di­vid­ual, but what­ever the game took out of them will have been re­stored by the per­for­mance and re­sult.”

PIC­TURES: UK Sports Pics Ltd

ROBIN IN FLIGHT: Bris­tol City’s Aaron Wil­bra­ham rises high­est to win a header UN­DER PRES­SURE: Joe Bryan of Bris­tol City beats chal­lenge of Oliver Mul­doon STAR MAN JOHN EGAN Gillingh


BRIS­TOL CITY (3-5-2): Field­ing 6, Ayling 7, Flint 7, Wil­liams 6 (Cun­ning­ham 30, 7), Lit­tle 6, Pack 8, Smith 6, Free­man 6, Bryan 7 (Tav­ernier 74, 6), Wil­bra­ham 6, Agard 6 (Em­manuel-Thomas 74, 7) Subs not used: Richards, El­liott, Wagstaff, Sav­ille

GILLING­HAM (4-4-2): Nel­son 6; Hoyte 8, Egan 8, Eh­mer 8, Martin 8, Mul­doon 6 (McGlashan 66, 6), Mor­ris 7, Dack 7, Loft 6, Mar­quis 6 (Nor­ris 77, 6), McDon­ald 6 Subs not used: Mor­ris, Legge, Gal­braith, Dick­en­son, Romeo

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