Goals from Craig Gardner and a terrific winning strike from Jacques Maghoma ensured that a calamitous opening 60 seconds of the game became a distant memory.BCFC
Blues came from a goal down to claim their first victory of the season in stirring fashion at St. Andrew’s.
Craig Gardner and a terrific winning strike from Jacques Maghoma ensured that a calamitous opening 60 seconds of the game became a distant memory.
The hosts finished the game with 10 men after the 80th minute sending-off of sub Maikel Kieftenbeld but saw it through, roared on by a healthy 21,000-plus St. Andrew's crowd.
Those home fans gave Harry Redknapp a rousing reception ahead of kick-off, but within a minute of the start they were stunned into silence as Bristol City went ahead.
The visitors came straight out of the traps and Blues were twice indebted to the woodwork as shots from Famara Diedhiou and John Brownhill crashed back off the crossbar. But it was only a momentary escape as Bobby Reid was perfectly placed to tap the second rebound into the net from almost on the line.
Tuesday’s hat-trick hero Che Adams did his best to drag Blues back into the game, twice denied in the space of 60 seconds. First he smacked in a shot that Frank Fielding did well to parry away and from the resultant corner he beat the Robins keeper with another terrific effort but left-back Joe Bryan was on the line to head clear.
Diedhiou was proving a real handful to the Blues defence and twice the big Senegalese striker created shooting chances but wasn’t able to find the target, the first deflected wide and then an even better opportunity when he looked to be through on goal but Marc Roberts did enough to put him off and he shanked his effort wide.
It was a very open game with Blues also seeing plenty of the ball on the breakaway. But it was from a set-play that Redknapp's side restored parity on the half-hour mark.
Roberts’ long throw almost paid dividends within 10 minutes of the opening day at Ipswich and it was the defender’s launch into the area that created the chance for Blues to level. The Bristol City defence only half cleared the ball and Gardner drilled his shot into the left corner of the net past an unsighted Fielding.
This only proved to be the catalyst for an all-out onslaught on the Blues goal by Lee Johnson’s team during the closing stages of the first period.
Michael Morrison played a captain’s role, twice blocking goal-bound efforts from Eros Pisano and Diedhiou, the latter heroic sliding intervention saving an almost certain goal.
And when the defence didn’t stand in their way, the visitors found Stockdale in imperious form. The Blues keeper incredibly kept out Jamie Paterson’s close-range effort as Blues found themselves under the cosh as the half came to a close.
Redknapp was forced into making two substitutions at the break due to injury, Jonathan Grounds and David Davis replaced by Paul Robinson and Kieftenbeld.
After the restart it was Blues that this time came out on the offensive. Emilio Nsue got forward into the area, cut inside to create an opening but was unable to keep his effort down.
This set the tone for a much-improved display from the hosts. On 56 minutes, Adams made a forging run at the Bristol defence but a deflection took the sting out of his shot and Fielding collected it comfortably.
And then moments later the visiting keeper came to his side’s rescue again as he beat away a vicious half-volley from Maghoma.
But Blues’ attacking potency was given a serious dent when Adams was forced to hobble off with an injury, a disappointing way to mark his 100th appearance in senior football. David Cotterill came on as the third and final change with over half an hour still to play.
Bristol hadn’t posed much of a threat during the first 20 minutes of the second period but then came an almighty let-off for Blues. The visitors worked their way through the Blues defence with some intricate passing which set up a golden chance for Reid, but with only Stockdale to beat he screwed his shot wide of the post.
On 72 minutes, Blues created another good chance. Robinson belied his advancing years with a storming, overlapping run down the left and he pulled the ball back perfectly for Donaldson but unfortunately the striker wasn’t able to make a good connection. Ndoye was following up and he could only stab the ball wide.
But two minutes later the roof came off St. Andrew’s as Blues completed the turnaround courtesy of a fabulous solo strike from Maghoma, the winger cutting inside from the left flank and sending an unstoppable shot whizzing into the bottom corner.
Blues were forced to play the final 10 minutes after the harsh dismissal of Kieftenbeld, the Dutchman’s late tackle deemed to be worthy of a red card even though it wasn’t two-footed.
But the hosts stood firm and put their bodies on the line, Gardner the next player to throw himself in the way of Diedhiou’s shot.
On 86 minutes, there was a very unusual yellow card brandished to Blues’ unused sub Stephen Gleeson, assumingly for something he'd said to the referee's assistant.
Blues got a stroke of luck that they deserved on 89 minutes when Roberts made a great tackle but the ball dropped kindly to Reid. However the striker blasted his shot against the inside of the post.
Blues are up and running in this season's Championship. Next up is another home game against Bolton on Tuesday evening.
Blues: Stockdale; Nsue, Roberts, Morrison, Grounds (Cotterill h/t); Davis (Kieftenbeld h/t), Ndoye, Gardner, Maghoma; Adams, Donaldson
Subs (not used): Kuszczak, Harding, Tesche, Gleeson, Cotterill.
Goals: Gardner (30), Maghoma (74)
Bristol City: Fielding; Pisano, Wright, Hegeler, Bryan; Brownhill (O’Dowda 76), Smith, Pack, Paterson (Eliasson 76); Reid, Diedhioiu.
Subs (not used): Baker, Magnusson, O’Neil, Hinds, Lucic
Goal: Reid (1)