Bristol City 2-1 Middlesbrough: Player ratings, MOTM, heroes & villains as Ashton Gate Eight celebrated

Robins record fourth home win in a row to get some good momentum going at Ashton Gate.

A game marked in poignancy, as the Ashton Gate Eight were celebrated for their contribution in enabling the Robins to carry on after 1982, was capped with the display on the pitch it deserved.

That remaining group who agreed to rip up their contracts to let the club survive were there in BS3 as Nigel Pearson’s team beat his former club of his playing days in fine fashion, 2-1.

An excellent set of festivities - and with better organisation than two years before as Fulham came to town for the 125th anniversary of the club - marked the occasion before the game began.

And Andi Weimann netted from Antoine Semenyo’s hammered cross just seconds before the eighth minute to set the stadium rocking in jubilation even more so. How about that for timing?

The names of Geoff Merrick, Chris Garland, Trevor Tainton, David Rodgers, Gerry Sweeney, Julian Marshall, Jimmy Mann and Peter Aitken were celebrated here (with six in attendance; Mann and Garland absent) and when Semenyo rifled in from the edge of the area after 68 minutes, after a Weimann pass, the day was complete.

A 90th minute header from Matt Crooks made sure supporters felt some late angst, as per usual this season, but nothing was going to stop the three points from remaining in the South West on this day of all days.

Tale of the game

Surprise starter - at right wing-back - Sam Bell cleared at the back post within three minutes as Anfernee Dijksteel attacked and Jay Dasilva won an early duel with lively winger Isaiah Jones, who had terrorised the West Country men up at the Riverside Stadium.

But like the Sunday before, City’s front two combined in the first half and Semenyo crossed low for Weimann to slam in at the near post, in the seventh minute - perfectly synchronised before the Ashton Gate Eight celebrations around the ground started some 70 seconds later.

Crooks was then booked for bringing down Scott on the counter before the Boro midfielder lashed at goal, with Kalas getting a vital block in.

Bentley was there to intercept a Jones cross as City protected their lead from a team who had beaten Manchester United only two weeks previously.

Tavernier appealed for a penalty from a Williams tackle before crossing wide and Semenyo could not get the ball away as the Robins enjoyed a huge let off as Connolly intercepted Massengo’s back pass, though the on-loan Irishman could only find the side-netting of the goal.

Scott was booked for tugging back Crooks and Klose cleared from under his own bar as Wilder’s side threatened from corners.

And City were slinking on the retreat onto the back foot in the final 10 minutes of the first half and that carried on after the break.

The spindly Jones asked for a penalty against Timm Klose minutes after the restart before drawing a great save from the recalled Dan Bentley as the winger went one-on-one in the box.

A gorgeous Bell cross deserved a better finish from Weimann just before the hour mark as Joe Lumley saved easily before Folarin Balogun had two efforts at goal, the first saved, the second blasted over the bar.

Where the on-loan Arsenal man failed, Semenyo succeeded. Weimann now turned provider and the former SGS College striker lashed in from the edge of the box.

With Bentley making save after save in front of the Atyeo Stand, Scott flying into the tackles and substitute Cam Pring roaring up the wing when the magnificent Massengo wasn’t, City were holding the men from the north east at bay.

Semenyo almost wrapped things up with a majestic spin to meet Massengo’s cross from the byline with eight minutes left, and when Crooks headed in a Tavernier corner in the 90th minute, the home crowd were fearing the worst.

But the home side held on to crown the occasion in fitting style.

Heroes

Dan Bentley: The restored goalkeeper came in for his first start since the 2-3 loss to Huddersfield on 18 December and made save after save. A brilliant display from the club captain to question why he has not started more games of late.

Andi Weimann: A 16th goal of the season for the Austrian, as he neatly converted at the near post to score early doors. Assisted Semenyo in the second half, on 68 minutes, as the strike pair both netted.

Joe Williams: A tiger-ish performance in the middle from the returning midfielder, who played in an almost 1980s sweeper role, marauding out from defence and between the two centre-backs, beginning the game in the middle of the back three.

The Ashton Gate Eight: The weekend belongs to them as the group were serenaded with “Eight men had a dream...” in the final five minutes, the festivities before kick off helping to get the place jumping before the fixture began.

Villains

Storm Eunice: The weather led to floods around the local area, debris and interfered with the visitors travel plans, as Chris Wilder and co were forced to get a later flight down to the South West on the Friday evening before the game.

The Ashton Gate groundsmen: A light-hearted one - as the sprinklers came on and soaked the mascots before the game started.

Player ratings

Bristol City (3-4-3): Bentley 8; Kalas 8, Williams 8 (Cundy 80’, n/a), Klose 7; Bell 6 (Pring 7, 64’), Scott 9, Massengo 8, Dasilva 8; Weimann 8, Semenyo 9, Martin 7.

Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Lumley 6; Dijksteel 7 (Watmore, 74’), Fry 6, McNair 6; Jones 6, Crooks 7, Howson 5, Tavernier 6, Taylor (McGree 52’) 5; Connolly 5, Balogun 5.

Man of the match

Alex Scott: Wow. Another fantastic display in the middle from the ex-Guernsey FC man who made block and tackle after pass and dribble. Instrumental.

What’s next

Bristol City entertain Coventry City on Tuesday night next. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough host West Brom.