NOUS OF FRASER THWARTS ROBINS
THEY might have ended Saturday night rock bottom of the Championship but Steve Cotterill believes his Bristol City side is starting to come to terms with life in the second tier.
Understandably disappointed after his side conceded an 86th-minute equaliser at below-par Ipswich, a more resilient Robins were more than a match for a Tractor Boys team with real designs on another top-six finish.
Both Cotterill and his opposite number, Mick McCarthy, would have been pleased with how their respective teams clawed their way back from losing positions to ultimately settle for a point that was just about the right result.
A flat first-half gave way to a pulsating second with three goals inside the first 15 minutes and a late equaliser from Ipswich’s star man, Ryan Fraser.
Summing up a breathless second half, Cotterill admitted: “I think we should have won the game so I am a little disappointed, to be honest.
“If you had said to me we would come to Ipswich and get a point, I would have taken that. But once we went 2-1 up, we stopped playing and stopped passing the ball.
“You do get more punished in this league but we are definitely learning. There is a tinge of disappointment as we have ended up bottom in the Championship.”
Last season’s League One champions could, and probably should, have taken the lead after just four minutes when Aaron Wilbraham’s neat flick released Jonathan Kodjia but his stinging drive had the power – but not the precision – to beat Dean Gerken, who was able to make a fine reaction save.
After that, chances were few and far between in a dull 45 minutes.
Kodjia flashed a shot just wide before Aden Flint almost scored an outrageous own goal when he met Fraser’s corner, but his powerful header at his own goal was pushed away by Frank Fielding.
It was the only blot on Flint’s copybook as he and Aston Villa loanee Nathan Baker comfortably nullified the threat of last season’s Championship top scorer, Daryl Murphy.
A goal was needed to liven up the second half and it came just 45 seconds after the restart.
Ipswich full-back Jonas Knudsen had greater success with his left boot than his long throw as his deep, probing cross was powerfully met by skipper Luke Chambers.
But within ten horrible minutes, the home side found themselves 2-1 down.
The first goal was fortuitous, Luke Freeman’s powder-puff shot taking a deflection off Tommy Smith’s heel which just about wrong-footed Gerken.
Their second was more impressive as Kodjia was allowed to pick up Wilbraham’s pass inside and race past the out-of-sorts Christophe Berra before firing the ball into the roof of the net.
Some degree of an onslaught duly followed but Ipswich had to wait until the 86th minute when Fraser grabbed an equaliser that his performance deserved.
McCarthy said: “They started well and we needed a fantastic save from Dean Gerken to keep us in it.
“But I changed our shape and I thought we were the better team in the first half. We start brilliantly in the second-half but then the deflection was a real kick in the ging-gangs. It was a big slice of luck, though we should have done better to stop the shot.
“Their second goal was a good one from their point of view but defensively appalling. But I must admire the response of my team for the way they got back in the game.”
STAR MAN ADEN FLINT Bristol