The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joe Thomas

IF the fans who turned up at the River­side Sta­dium ex­pected to see fur­ther ev­i­dence of a team head­ing for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion this sea­son then Bristol City played their part in leav­ing them dis­ap­pointed.

For while City have their own am­bi­tious plans to make an im­pact at the top end of the Cham­pi­onship over the next nine months, few would have en­vis­aged Ai­tor Karanka’s Mid­dles­brough side slip­ping up in their sec­ond home game of the cam­paign.

Steve Cot­ter­ill, the Robins boss, en­joyed over­see­ing Bristol City’s first win of the sea­son, and the man­ner in which they achieved it should hearten him and the board­room mem­bers at Ash­ton Gate.

From the mo­ment wing-back Joe Bryan curled in the lovely win­ner af­ter just eight min­utes they were or­gan­ised and de­ter­mined to keep out a Mid­dles­brough side the book­mak­ers have fan­cied for the ti­tle this time around.

Cot­ter­ill said: “If they don’t get au­to­matic pro­mo­tion, Mid­dles­brough, they will cer­tainly get top six. I’m sure of that. That’s why it is so pleas­ing for us that so many of our play­ers stood up so well.

“I think it will sur­prise a few Cham­pi­onship teams by how well we did against Mid­dles­brough but I al­ways felt, and I said it be­fore­hand, that we were ca­pa­ble of a 1-0 here.

“Cham­pi­onship play­ers are big­ger and stronger and we have to ad­just to that fact but I’m con­fi­dent we can.”

He con­tin­ued: “In the first half we scored one great goal and had two other great chances be­fore half-time. At 3-0 it could have been game over. We de­served this.”

City could ac­tu­ally have been two or three goals up be­fore half-time be­cause they had the best of the chances in the first half.

Bobby Reid some­how blasted over from six yards when he re­acted first to the re­bound fol­low­ing Dimi Kon­stan­topou­los’ save from Aaron Wil­bra­ham at his near post.

Shortly af­ter that the Greek keeper made an even bet­ter stop when he got a hand to a pow­er­ful drive from striker Jonathan Kod­jia.

Karanka had stunned the River­side by leav­ing out in-form Kike, Al­bert Adomah and Diego Fab­brini and he must have sensed some­thing had to change him­self be­cause he in­tro­duced the lat­ter for the in­ef­fec­tive Yanic Wild­schut af­ter the restart.

That sparked Mid­dles­brough in to life but they found Bristol City’s Ben Hamer in bril­liant form be­tween the posts. He made ex­cep­tional saves to deny Cristhian Stu­ani and Daniel Ayala from close range be­fore then div­ing low to turn be­hind Grant Lead­bit­ter’s lovely low shot.

Even the in­tro­duc­tions of Adomah and Kike as the sec­ond half wore on did not her­ald the equaliser and ‘Boro – who had Stewart Down­ing pulling the strings and who had a goal ruled out for an in­fringe­ment in the box – suf­fered a first loss of the sea­son.

“We have to try to choose the best 11 and to change the play­ers in the right way be­tween games,” said a frus­trated Karanka, whose side have only won one of their open­ing four league games.

“I al­ways try to put the play­ers on the pitch who I think are the best at the mo­ment and that’s why I made the three changes I made be­fore the start of the game. Some play­ers were tired, some play­ers de­served their chance.

“This is dis­ap­point­ing for us, no doubt about that, be­cause we hoped to have more points on the board at this stage. But Bristol City did not sur­prise us.We have played two for­mer League One teams now and not beaten ei­ther and so we don’t un­der­es­ti­mate them.”

FIST PLACE: Bristol City’s Ben Hamer punches the ball away

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.