COOK RU­MOUR GATH­ERS PACE

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By John Brind­ley

BRIS­TOL CITY stamped their Cham­pi­onship qual­ity on Ch­ester­field’s ‘flat’ play-off party, ac­cord­ing to Spire­ites as­sis­tant boss Liam Richard­son.

Goals in ei­ther half from Kieran Agard and Aden Flint won the day, yet Rochdale’s de­feat by MK Dons means the Spire­ites de­servedly booked their ticket to the play-offs.

Strong ru­mours that manager Paul Cook is about to de­part for Portsmouth were not the only rea­son for as­sis­tant boss Richard­son’s cau­tion af­ter­wards.

With ques­tions about their fu­ture of­fi­cially off lim­its, Richard­son said: “We do feel a bit flat be­cause we go out to win games and we didn’t. We have touched where we want to be but we wanted to go all the way to Wem­b­ley with­out los­ing now.

“It was a great game with noth­ing in it for the first half hour – they were two sloppy goals from our point of view.

“You have to give credit though to Bris­tol City – they played well and that’s why they are cham­pi­ons.

“We matched them in cer­tain parts and you can never fault us for ef­fort. Now it’s on to the next chal­lenge.”

Ch­ester­field opened with en­ergy although they were kept at arm’s length by the com­posed City back three.

When Jimmy Ryan did test Frank Field­ing with a low shot af­ter a neat ex­change with John O’Shea af­ter 26 min­utes, it rum­bled the cham­pi­ons into their first di­rect threat with Tommy Lee sav­ing a left footer from Joe Bryan.

Sooth­ing news from Rochdale was then damp­ened for the Spire­ites as Agard danced round Ten­dayi Darikwa to slide City in front – a lead he would have dou­bled in first-half in­jury time but for a smart save by Lee as Jay Em­manuel-Thomas be­gan to twin­kle.

Sam Clu­cas forced Field­ing into a good save at close range in the 55th minute but again the vis­i­tors re­sponded in style. Mar­lon Pack’s left-wing cor­ner was met by a tow­er­ing header by Flint to add gloss to his com­mand­ing per­for­mance.

City stroked the ball around with real ar­ro­gance to fur­ther de­light their large away fol­low­ing.

With the strik­ers mak­ing lit­tle head way, it was left to Gary Roberts to of­fer a fur­ther Ch­ester- field threat. He thun­dered a crack­ing 25-yarder against the bar and curled a late free­kick just over.

City boss Steve Cot­ter­ill said: “I’ve been proud of my play­ers on many oc­ca­sions – but I’m even prouder now that we’ve come to a tough place when our des­tiny was set­tled and put on a per­for­mance like that.

“We did right by Rochdale by show­ing that level of com­mit­ment.

“Ch­ester­field gave us a a tighter game ear­lier in the sea­son but, as we’ve played teams for a sec­ond time, I think we’ve shown we have im­proved. “They are a good team – and will give any­one a good game in the play offs – but with­out doubt we were the bet­ter side in the game.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

HAVE THAT: Bris­tol City’s Aden Flint scores his side’s sec­ond goal

QUAL­ITY FIN­ISH: Bris­tol City’s Kieran Agard scores

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