Bristol City 1-2 Birmingham City: Player ratings, MOTM, heroes & villains as Robins slip to home defeat

Nigel Pearson’s side lose again in BS3 as the Blues again take the points from the West Country.

<p>Birmingham City players wear t-shirts displaying the message ‘no to war’ before facing Bristol City.</p>

Birmingham City players wear t-shirts displaying the message ‘no to war’ before facing Bristol City.

Bristol City lost 1-2 to Birmingham City on a disappointing Saturday afternoon at Ashton Gate.

But the feeling is a very familiar one. The Blues enjoy their trips to the South West having now won an incredible nine trips of the last 11 to this ground.

Antoine Semenyo was announced as overcoming illness in the 36 hours before the game, with preparation affected. And Robins supporters were soon feeling uneasy on this occasion too.

After just 102 seconds of the match, Manchester United loanee Tahith Chong collected a Marc Roberts ball down the flank and was given too much space to turn, by the returning Matty James, to slide a low shot into the far corner of the goal.

And with just 13 minutes gone it was a two-goal lead as Jordan Graham’s corner saw Nico Gordon beat Antoine Semenyo in the air and find the same corner of Dan Bentley’s goal.

Nigel Pearson rung the changes at the break with his side completely outplayed in the first half, unable to get a shot on target, with Jay Dasilva’s low cross tapped home by Alex Scott for his fourth Championship goal of the season minutes after the restart.

The side in red pushed on, but substitute Rob Atkinson could only find the side netting from a Scott free-kick and Neil Etheridge saved Semenyo’s drive. Bentley stopped the scoreline being worse and Bristol City lost again in BS3 to the boys in blue.

The tale of the game

Birmingham snatched the lead after just seconds and the away supporters celebrated by throwing blue flares from the Atyeo Stand.

James allowing Chong to turn and slot in before City responded five minutes later through a low Semenyo cross that just evaded Chris Martin.

Onel Hernandez repeated the trick at the other end before Kristian Pedersen’s cross caused alarm, from which Graham’s corner was headed in by Gordon.

Bristol City attacked and a crunching Joe Williams tackle, intelligent Timm Klose interception and Roberts flicked header from a Kalas long throw almost saw immediate reprisal. But it was not to be as Lee Bowyer’s side gritted out the first half (displaying much of what the side in red do not have currently).

Two changes at the break changed the momentum, as Sam Bell and Timm Klose (a first-half booking a likely factor) were taken off for Rob Atkinson and Cam Pring, with an immediate response: a low Dasilva cross evaded everyone and there was Scott steaming into the area to tap home from a few yards out and rouse the home crowd.

As Section 82 serenaded the Guernsey Grealish with, “It’s wonderful...” the Robins were on top. And when Atkinson met a Scott free-kick with half an hour to play a scoring chance was presented. Alas, side-netting.

Juninho Bacuna then flashed wide from 25 yards out before Pring crossed for Williams to head at goal, and the heat in BS3 was rising.

On came Nahki Wells to release Semenyo to run at goal and shoot but Etheridge saved. And Bentley did likewise as Bacuna stung the palms from outside the area on 75 minutes.

But the game was stilted and the Blues too tough a nut to crack, as City slipped to a fourth defeat in five, with Bentley stopping sub Scott Hogan netting from close range in injury time, and Bacuna from the edge of the area.

Heroes

Alex Scott: The 18-year-old was Alex-on-the-spot when he tapped in Dasilva’s cross just after the break for his fourth goal of the league season. There was plenty of more good stuff too: no one made more successful tackles (according to Opta stats) in the game than the coveted versatile midfielder.

Rob Atkinson: Was one of few City positives as he returned to action and stepped forward to help the Robins gain possession and released his teammates into space with intelligent forward passes. A second half fight-back was helped by his play from the back.

CEO Richard Gould and the club: the mates’ rates ticket prices for the game looked to encourage a bigger crowd than normal, with plenty of Bluenoses in the away stand too, given the easy travel for Birmingham.

Villains

Matty James: Gave too much room to Chong for the opening goal and looked rusty on his first start since the win over Millwall on 2 January.

Sam Bell: Didn’t have the best game as he slipped by the byline when attempting to cross before slicing the ball straight out of play in the first half, to set the away fans jeering in front of him. Hooked the ball straight to the keeper when well placed just before the break too. Taken off at the break.

Nigel Pearson: A dreadful home performance devoid of desire and front-foot aggression in the first half. Birmingham were first to so many loose balls and too wily in defence. But nothing that was not expected, with City booed off at the break. What went wrong, Nige?

Ratings

Bristol City (4-3-1-2): Bentley 7; Bell 3 (Atkinson 45’, 6), Kalas 6, Klose 6 (Pring 45’, 6), Dasilva 6; James 4 (Wells, 71’), Williams 5, Scott 6; Weimann 5, Semenyo 5, Martin 6

Birmingham City (5-3-2): Etheridge 6; Graham 6, Roberts 7, Gordon 7, Pedersen 7, Hernandez 7 (Hogan, 86’ 8); Sunjic 8, Gardner 7, Bacuna 6, Taylor 6, Chong 8

Man of the match

Tahith Chong for the visitors, who displayed Manchester United class as the 22-year-old loanee proved tough to shackle in the first period. Alex Scott for the home side, though Jay Dasilva warrants a mention too after a good showing down the left.

What’s next?

Bristol City head to Blackburn Rovers in a week’s time. Birmingham City host Hull in a week.