HIGH-FLY­ING ROBINS ARE LEFT FEEL­ING THE BLUES...

Maghoma seals come­back win

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sam All­sop

BRIS­TOL CITY were brought back down to earth with a bang yes­ter­day de­spite tak­ing the lead at Birm­ing­ham af­ter just 48 sec­onds.

There was plenty of ten­sion be­tween both sets of fans be­fore a ball had even been kicked due to the on­go­ing trans­fer saga sur­round­ing Aden Flint.

It has been no se­cret over the sum­mer that the Blues are in­ter­ested in sign­ing the City cen­tre-half, and as he was left out of Lee John­son’s match-day squad it has only stoked the fire.

De­spite Flint’s likely de­par­ture there is still plenty of rea­son for op­ti­mism for Robins sup­port­ers, of whom 1,943 made the jour­ney to St An­drews.

New sign­ing Fa­mara Died­hiou con­tin­ues to show signs he is ca­pa­ble of fill­ing the void left by last sea­son’s top-scorer Tammy Abra­ham, de­spite not be­ing able to add to his de­but goal on the open­ing day against Barns­ley.

Fel­low new sign­ing and Swe­den Un­der-21 mid­fielder Ni­clas Elias­son came off the bench to make his de­but de­spite only re­ceiv­ing in­ter­na­tional clear­ance from FIFA yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Bris­tol City man­ager Lee John­son said: “For 65 per cent of the time I was happy with our per­for­mance but the other 35 per cent got sloppy and saw it slip away

from us. If we play like that for the next 44 matches then we’ll win more than we lose.

“As good as our play was, and as many chances as we cre­ated, we haven’t tucked them away. I don’t want to be crit­i­cal of my team be­cause I thought we played some out­stand­ing stuff. I’ll go and pick (the play­ers) up, they’re down but they don’t need to be.

“Aden Flint’s sit­u­a­tion is the same. I want play­ers fully com­mit­ted to Bris­tol City; the door is still open.”

Bobby Reid’s opener was the Robins’ ninth goal of sea­son fol­low­ing com­pre­hen­sive 3-1 and 5-0 wins over Barns­ley and Ply­mouth re­spec­tively.

But the goal only seemed to spur Harry Red­knapp’s Birm­ing­ham side into life, and they were level af­ter half-an-hour when Craig Gard­ner’s low drive from the edge of the box beat Frank Field­ing.

Jac­ques Maghoma won it for the Blues deep into the sec­ond half with the pick of the af­ter­noon’s goals. He col­lected a throw-in from the left, burst in­side and fired the ball past Frank Field­ing to send St An­drews into rap­tures.

Birm­ing­ham sub­sti­tute Maikel Kieften­beld piled the pres­sure on his team-mates deep in the sec­ond half when he re­ceived a sec­ond yel­low card for a late chal­lenge which did look harsh on the Blues mid­fielder.

Un­der the man­age­ment of Red­knapp, Birm­ing­ham are be­ing tipped to push for pro­mo­tion and make a re­turn to the Premier League for the first time since 2011.

But big im­prove­ments will need to be made in the trans­fer mar­ket if that is the case. Red­knapp has al­ready been busy and with plenty of time still left in the sum­mer win­dow, don’t ex­pect the Blues to be fin­ished with their busi­ness.

“They worked hard, they were in­cred­i­ble,” said Red­knapp when asked about his play­ers’ per­for­mance. “I can’t fault them, they worked tremen­dously hard and got a re­sult that needed guts.

“I made the changes at half­time to try and thicken up our mid­field and stop them com­ing through us.

“City looked very dan­ger­ous go­ing for­ward and caught us off guard a lit­tle bit, but once we had set­tled into the game I backed my play­ers to go and get some­thing .

“I’m ex­cited for the sea­son ahead but we aren’t go­ing to get ahead of our­selves. We look for­ward to Bolton on Tues­day now.”

JOB DONE: Jac­ques Maghoma, right, wheels away af­ter scor­ing Birm­ing­ham’s win­ner

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

LEV­ELLER: Craig Gard­ner scores Birm­ing­ham City’s equal­is­ing goal af­ter Bobby Reid, in­set, had Bris­tol City ahead in the first minute

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