Saturday 6th January.
Oh well, at least we can concentrate on the league now. For the
second time this season we have been out-fought and out-thought
by a team from the second division. Right from the off it was obvious
that Bristol City wanted to win this game far more than Town did.
They looked far better organised and hungrier for the ball than
Town, and our midfield seemed to be second to almost every ball
and Town struggled to try to get a toehold in the game.
A month ago teams were coming to the McAlpine almost expecting
to win and playing a more expansive game which allowed us to counter
attack more readily, however, following the upturn in form teams
are coming to defend and we are struggling to unlock these well
organised defences. Tranmere tried and failed because they were
poor, but Sheffield Wednesday and now Bristol City have succeeded
because we don’t have the killer touch to break down stubborn defences.
We struggled to get any decent possession in midfield, and they
enjoyed most of the game in the first half without actually creating
many clear-cut chances. Town too failed to create much in front
of goal and never looked like scoring.
The half-time interval came as a welcome relief as I thought there
might be some lockers kicked and tea cups thrown as Macari wound
us up for a second half onslaught, but it never materialised. The
second period began much as the first had finished with Bristol
City enjoying the better of the possession but not looking particularly
dangerous until the 54th minute that is. I can’t remember too much
about the actual build up except that the Town defence looked like
statues as the ball was played through to Clist who tucked the ball
into the net. Vaesen looked to get a hand on the ball and it seemed
to take an age to cross the line, but cross the line it did.
The deficit seemed to rouse Town from their slumbers for a while
as they foraged forward for an equaliser and Facey was close but
not close enough to a Simon Baldry cross from the right. You started
to get the feeling that it wasn’t going to be our day when Craig
Armstrong hit the post from close range when he looked certain to
score. A goal then would have lifted the crowd and the players,
but as it was Bristol City fought harder for the ball and began
to regain their midfield dominance.
The visitors began to create more chances as the game progressed,
and Vaesen needed to be alert to keep the deficit down to one. Following
one clearance near the edge of his area he seemed to be caught by
an unnecessary follow-through that required some lengthy treatment
but the foul evaded the attention of the referee. The referee was
found wanting again about 10 minutes from time when (Jeremy?) Peter
Beadle seemed to handle the ball before being given the freedom
of the penalty area to volley home the visitors’ second goal.
Once again Town woke up but it was too late now, and when Simon
Baldry hit the post again we knew it wasn’t going to be our day.
At least it wasn’t seen as too much of a giant killing by the media,
and went largely unreported.
The defeat cannot be attributed entirely to the absence of Peter
Ndlovu, but we did miss his industry on the left flank. The defence
gave the opposition far too much time for both goals, and I would
imagine that Thomas Heary might well make way for Adie Moses when
Stockport visit the McAlpine next Saturday. We always joke about
the old ‘concentrate on the league’ cliché, but hopefully this game
has provided Town with a wake up call because there is still much
to do this season if we are to avoid playing the likes of Bristol
City and Oldham next season. Stockport seem to have discovered a
little bit of form recently and we’ll have to be at our best to
beat them. If it means that we have got the post ‘Manager of the
Month’ defeat out of the way then perhaps I can take some consolation
from this result.
Bristol City 2 (Clist 51, Beadle 81)
Town – Vaesen; Heary (Gorré 76); Gray;
Dyson; Vincent; Armstrong (Sellars 63); Baldry; Holland; Gallen;
Facey; Thornley. Subs not used – Margetson; Irons; Moses.
Bristol City – Phillips; Carey; Bell (Burnell
53); Millen; Murray; Hill; Tinnion; Brown (A); Beadle; Thorpe;
Clist. Subs not used – Amankwaah; Brown (M); Spencer; Malessa.
Referee – Bill Burns (Scarborough). Attendance