Robins rocked by classy Butland

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Michael Smith

JACK BUTLAND pro­duced a world-class late save to seal a pre­cious vic­tory for Stoke over Bris­tol City at Ash­ton Gate.

The goal­keeper threw him­self to his left on his line to block a goal-bound shot from Ni­clas Elias­son with an out­stretched glove af­ter 87 min­utes with his side un­der heavy pres­sure.

Stoke boss Gary Rowett said: “You won’t see a more out­stand­ing goal­keep­ing dis­play. I have worked with Jack and Jordan Pick­ford, and Jack has all the at­tributes Jordan pos­sesses.”

The vis­i­tors had taken a 34th-minute lead when Bris­tol City failed to deal with a cross into their box from the left and Joe Allen’s header fell into the path of Dar­ren Fletcher, who had time to con­trol the ball on his chest be­fore lash­ing a left­footed vol­ley past Max O’Leary from 10 yards.

It wasn’t the hosts’ day as they hit the bar twice and failed to find a fin­ish, de­spite dom­i­nat­ing much of the sec­ond pe­riod. Af­ter an open­ing half hour in which nei­ther side cre­ated much, the game sprang to life, with Tom Ince latch­ing on to an at­tempted clear­ance by Bris­tol de­fender To­mas Kalas and send­ing a left-footed vol­ley nar­rowly wide.

The home side went straight up the other end and fash­ioned their first open­ing, Jack Hunt do­ing well to di­rect a long di­ag­o­nal ball from Adam Web­ster across goal and Fa­mara Died­hiou strik­ing the an­gle of post and cross­bar with a header.

Then came Fletcher’s goal and it proved one of his last con­tri­bu­tions as he was forced off by in­jury af­ter 41 min­utes, Char­lie Adam go­ing on as re­place­ment.

To­mas Kalas had a header saved, Died­hiou sent an overJORDAN head kick wide and Cal­lum O’Dowda had a low shot blocked as Bris­tol tried to get on terms be­fore the break.

Af­ter the in­ter­val, Eric Pi­eters stung the hands of O’Leary with a 30-yard ef­fort be­fore Bris­tol be­gan to gain mo­men­tum. A se­ries of promis­ing raids saw Butland need two at­tempts to deal with a Liam Walsh strike from dis­tance.

Jamie Pater­son’s shot was then par­ried by Butland into the path of Elias­son, who failed to con­trol the ball with the goal at his mercy.

Died­hiou headed against the wood­work for the sec­ond time in the match and Mar­lon Pack’s re­bound ef­fort was cleared off the line with Stoke de­fend­ing des­per­ately.

Rowett added: “Jack had a lot of fam­ily and friends in the crowd. If it makes him play like that, I’ll get him 20 tick­ets for ev­ery game and lay on a coach for them!

“We rode our luck at times and had to put bod­ies on the line. But we were the bet­ter side in the first half and de­served to go in front.

“Now we are five points off the play-offs and we haven’t played to our best yet. It’s where we are come April that mat­ters.”

Bris­tol boss Gary John­son said: “I am very frus­trated. Part of me wants to say how well we played in the sec­ond half, but his­tory won’t re­mem­ber that.

“The ball just wouldn’t go in for us. Butland has made some un­be­liev­able saves, but the qual­ity of our fin­ish­ing could have been bet­ter.”

PIC­TURE: PA Im­ages

FLETCH THAT: Dar­ren Fletcher (cen­tre) cel­e­brates scor­ing the only goal of the game as Stoke handed Bris­tol City a rare de­feat at Ash­ton Gate

COUNTER-AT­TACK: Saido Ber­ahino leads the charge for Stoke

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.