Bristol City 2
Flint 8 + 82
Bradford City 2
Clarke 20, Routis 85
Tuesday 21 October, 2014
Image and words by Kieran Wilkinson
Phil Parkinson proved that diamonds aren’t forever by changing to a 4-2-3-1 formation (which at times ended up as a 4-4-2) and ultimately reaping dividends from doing so.
A fairly downbeat build up to the match led to low (or no) expectations. Given recent results, it has been much easier to focus on negatives than the positives and, bearing in mind Bristol City’s current dominance of the league, it was easier to think in terms of (a) how many would we lose by and (b) would Rory McArdle add any further moves to his wrestling repertoire (the smart money being on a Ric Flair style figure four leg lock).
If there was some inevitability to ditching the diamond, Phil Parkinson did at least spring some surprises with his team selection, with James Meredith in place of Alan Sheehan, Christopher Routis in for the suspended Darby and a (second) full debut for Jon Stead (the latter receiving a warm welcome from his old club). Andy Halliday also made a debut, the left winger spending most of the first half on the right hand side. However, it was the change that the manager didn’t make that possibly had the biggest impact on early proceedings.
Andrew Davies did not look fully fit and there is a big question mark (even accounting for his talismanic influence) as to whether he should have started the game. When Bristol City’s Adam Flint headed in from a free kick from the flanks in the right minute, it is arguable that Davies had lost his man and should have done better.
The goal actually seemed to wake City up a little and did result in us pushing a little more. McArdle had a header saved before Billy Clarke headed home from a Mark Yeates cross in the twentieth minute. Things could have turned full circle one minute later, when Yeates and Halliday hit the bar and post respectively within the same move.
City weren’t having it all their own way with Kieran Agard missing a glorious chance from close range.
Inevitably, Davies limped off around ten minutes before half time, the defender looking pretty angry with himself. Presumably another absence beckons? Hopefully not for too long, as we all know the value of a fully fit Andrew Davies.
City weathered a couple more Bristol City attacks and got to half time with honours even. Stead had particularly impressed during the first half, with his tireless work and intelligent passing.
City took a while to get going in the second half, with Bristol City increasing the pressure and playing with the sort of confidence one would expect from a top of the table side. However, the Bantams gradually came back into the game and managed to fashion a few chances of their own, with Halliday and Yeates both having opportunities.
James Hanson was introduced for Clarke midway through the second half and had his usual positive impact that we have come to expect from him. I think it is fair to say that having two big men up front really gave Bristol something different to think about, and it would be interesting to see if the two could play together on a longer term basis (I think service to them would be the key if they did).
City looked to have blown it though, when Flint struck again following a corner. From the away end (admittedly at the opposite side of the ground) this looked like another Jordan Pickford “could do better from a corner” moment (a shame given that he had another otherwise solid match). The goal finally resulted in some noise from the Bristol City fans, who had surprisingly been fairly quietly until that stage.
City kept their heads up and three minutes later, in the eighty fifth minute, Filipe Morais crossed, Hanson headed on and Routis half-volleyed to get his “premier” goal in English football. Routis is fast becoming a cult figure at City, and this goal certainly did no harm to that burgeoning reputation.
City hung on for a deserved point and maintained their good record against Bristol City. It was particularly pleasing to see that, despite recent setbacks, heads didn’t drop and that Phil Parkinson’s statement that we weren’t there to make up the numbers rang true. The stadium announcer played Tubthumping before the game and there was definitely a feeling that we were not going to be kept down.
Now onto cold and windy Oldham to see if we can maintain this.
City: Pickford, Routis, McArdle, Davies (Sheehan 38), Meredith, Kennedy, Liddle, Halliday (Morais 73), Clarke (Hanson 67), Yeates, Stead
Not used: Williams, Dolan, Knott, Mclean
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Categories: Match Reviews