Jonathan Grounds nets Birm­ing­ham’s fourth against Bristol City

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By John Brind­ley

CLAY­TON DON­ALD­SON showed it won’t just be him hav­ing sleep­less nights af­ter cel­e­brat­ing his new ar­rival with a first-half hat-trick.

Op­po­si­tion de­fend­ers can ex­pect their own share of night­mares fac­ing the goal-maker turned goal-taker who ef­fec­tively clinched this six-goal thriller within the first 40 min­utes, and just three weeks af­ter the birth of his son.

Ad­ven­tur­ous Bristol City made a real game of it with two Jonathan Kod­jia goals in ei­ther half be­fore Jonathan Grounds set­tled any home nerves with a late header.

“Clay­ton has four as­sists this sea­son and con­trib­utes a lot more than his goals,” said Blues boss Gary Rowett.

“Maybe if he has another bar­ren spell he should have another baby.

“Paul Cad­dis is our reg­u­lar penalty taker so I wasn’t too happy when Clay­ton grabbed the ball – I was hap­pier when I saw it go in.

“Fans are get­ting great value for money but I’d like to be a lit­tle more bor­ing and win three or four-nil.We can still get bet­ter and I was dis­ap­pointed with their two goals.”

Don­ald­son hid the ball un­der his shirt to lay claim to it af­ter his tre­ble – his first goals of the sea­son – but had plenty of com­pe­ti­tion for top billing.

Jon Toral was a fleet-footed, quick­think­ing men­ace who lured ref­eree Mark Brown into his most du­bi­ous de­ci­sion when award­ing a cru­cial penalty against Aaron Wil­bra­ham on 40 min­utes. The award was very much of the mod­ern va­ri­ety as the at­tack­ing player, at best, in­vited the chal­lenge just when the visi­tors were threat­en­ing to get back into the con­test.

De­marai Gray was im­pres­sive, too, as he laid on the game’s first goal in the tenth minute with a su­perb driven cross that was in­tel­li­gently squared across goal by David Cot­ter­ill for Don­ald­son to snaf­fle from point-blank range.

But Cot­ter­ill, very nar­rowly, was man of the match. The wide man gets bet­ter and bet­ter. There was rarely a rea­son to beat his marker as he regularly sent over teas­ing crosses that tor­mented the life out of City’s de­fence.

The visi­tors were too wide open for their own com­fort as they fell two goals be­hind within the open­ing 20 min­utes. Toral drove into the box for Don­ald­son to get his out­stretched toe to the ball and guide it into the cor­ner.

Bristol City, out of the blue, got back into the game when a fine move in­volv­ing Luke Ayling and Joe Bryan en­abled Kod­jia to score.

When Mar­lon Pack smacked a well­worked free-kick against the out­side of a post the bat­tle was well and truly joined only for Don­ald­son’s soft penalty to re-es­tab­lish blue wa­ter by the break.

The sec­ond half pro­vided more of the same. Kod­jia ac­ro­bat­i­cally hauled the visi­tors back to 3-2 af­ter Aden Flint hooked the ball into the box only for Grounds to clinch vic­tory with a header from Cot­ter­ill’s cor­ner.

“I’m frus­trated be­cause we cre­ated enough chances to win the game 6-4,” said Robins boss Steve Cot­ter­ill. “But we didn’t take them and I’m dis­ap­pointed with some of our de­fend­ing.

“Never in a mil­lion years was that a penalty. Ac­tu­ally, it should have been a book­ing for div­ing. The lines­man was jog­ging up to the half­way line. “That came at a very cru­cial time for us – but for the width of a post we’d have just got back to 2-2.

“We won’t change our men­tal­ity. When we get it right, we’ll cause teams prob­lems in this league.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

HAT-TRICK HERO: Clay­ton Don­ald­son scores the third goal for Birm­ing­ham

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