Bristol City player ratings: ‘Outstanding’ 9/10 impresses in Oxford United hammering

How the Robins fared in their impressive display against Oxford United
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Bristol City eased past Oxford United 5-1 in Round One of the Carabao Cup at Ashton Gate on Wednesday, after an inspired display from Jason Knight.

Harry Cornick gave the hosts an early lead after some impressive play from Haydon Roberts before Billy Bodin headed level.

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City restored their lead through Knight before halftime, the new midfielder doubled his tally early in the second period before Nahki Wells added a fourth.

Second-half substitute Kal Naismith netted once more to add to Oxford’s misery on his return following an injury.

The home side would’ve been keen to make an aggressive start to the match, following their sub-par display in Saturday’s draw with Preston North End.

However, it was the visitors that began on the front foot. Stanley Mills dragged wide before Tyler Goodrham saw two efforts blocked in a matter of minutes.

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Despite not dominating from the off, it was City who took the lead.

Roberts linked up well with Anis Mehmeti on the left flank and fired a low cross into the area. The ball was perfectly measured for the onrushing Cornick to slot home from close range.

City then began to dominate proceedings and were looking after the ball comfortably, but they were taken by surprise when Oxford levelled on the half-hour mark.

Finley Stevens’ floated cross made its way to the back post, where Bodin was unmarked to guide a looping header back across goal and into Max O’Leary’s left-hand corner.

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Moments later, Rob Dickie lost the ball high up the pitch and Mills rushed through one-against-one with O’Leary. However, Joe Williams tracked the attacker all the way and just did enough to put Mills off the shot.

The former Everton man was soon made to pay for his blunder, and with 35 minutes played the visitors were behind again.

City won the ball back deep in the Oxford half and Mehmeti picked the ball up on the left. The Albanian fizzed in a low cross which was initially blocked by Jordan Thorniley, but the clearance only found Knight, who finished first time into the bottom corner of James Beadle’s goal.

In what was an entertaining half of action, the Robins nearly netted again when Knight ran through on goal following Thorniley’s error. The midfielder sprinted 30 yards with the ball before he saw his low effort pushed away by the Oxford goalkeeper.

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The new midfielder didn’t have to wait long for another opening, and two minutes into the second period extended City’s lead.

A smart piece of play from Roberts fooled Stevens, before the ex-Brighton man drove into the U’s penalty area. Roberts pulled the ball back to the edge of the area where Knight was positioned to fire low past Beadle.

The result was put to bed before the hour mark when some sloppy play from Thorniley set Wells through on goal. The Bermudan squared up Beadle before coolly rounding the teenager and slotting home.

Nigel Pearson then made a triple change to freshen the team up, and it was one of the substitues that inflicted further pain on Liam Manning’s side.

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Wells was allowed time and space on the edge of the area, and picked out a brilliant chipped pass to Naismith. The Scot brought the ball down and fired into the roof of the Oxford goal to make it 5-1.

Player ratings:

Max O’Leary – 7

Made a couple of comfortable stops early on and in the second half, scrambled across in an attempt to save Bodin’s header but didn’t make contact – was wrong footed but perhaps could’ve done better.

George Tanner – 7

Steady when in possession on the right flank, defended well but was at fault for Bodin’s header when he allowed the forward to peel off at the back post.

Zak Vyner – 7

Solid as usual, calm on the ball and was rarely troubled. Made a good block early on to deny Goodrham.

Rob Dickie – 7

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Played some progressive passes and wasn’t afraid to travel into midfield with the ball. A very no nonsense display but almost made a costly error when he was dispossessed and allowed Mills to rush through on goal.

Haydon Roberts – 8

A very impressive display from the new man. Linked up strongly with Mehmeti on the left and always looked to play forward. Set up Cornick’s opener and Knight’s second, and got about his defensive work tenaciously.

Andy King – 7

Was a cool head in front of the back four but was bypassed a few times. The match was perhaps a little too frantic for his liking, but kept the ball moving in the middle and allowed Knight freedom to express himself.

Joe Williams – 7

Made some aggressive challenges in the middle and kept the ball moving. Held back along with King to allow Knight to venture forward.

Jason Knight – 9

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An outstanding display. Made two difficult chances look easy with his two goals and played a part in City’s fourth, too. Popped up all over the pitch and was a key part of City dominating the midfield. An exciting addition.

Harry Cornick – 7

Missed a big chance early on but avenged for the miss with a calm finish for the opening goal on the night.

Nahki Wells – 8

Occupied the Oxford centre backs all game and provided space for Knight and co. Had to be patient but took his opportunity well before picking out a delicate assist for Naismith.

Anis Mehmeti – 7

Was a threat out wide and gave Stevens a headache, linked up well with Roberts smartly to set up Cornick’s strike and played a big part in Knight’s first strike. His end product was still missing at times, but that will no doubt come in time.

Mark Sykes (on for Cornick 46’) - 6

Wasn’t as involved as he would’ve liked on the right flank.

Sam Bell (on for King 61’) - 6

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Didn’t have much chance to utilise his pace as City were on control after his arrival.

Kal Naismith (on for Knight 61’) - 7

Made an instant impact scoring less than 60 seconds after he came on. Good to see him back after a spell out injured.

Matty James (on for Williams 61’) - 7

Came on to sure up things in midfield, looked sharp.

Ephraim Yeboah (on for Wells 72’) - 7

A chance to have a look at another young prospect. Looked lively and could be one to watch in the coming months.

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