Bristol City player ratings: 19y/o scores 8/10 and new men impress in Cheltenham draw
George Tanner’s clean strike late in the first half gave Nigel Pearson’s side a deserved lead at halftime before Aidan Keena slotted home a second-half spot-kick after Matty James brought down George Lloyd.
City made a fast start to the match and dominated proceedings from the off, and it didn't take long for the visitors to threaten the Cheltenham goal.
City won the ball back on the edge of the hosts penalty area, Jason Knight found Tommy Conway who passed to Harry Cornick, but the ex-Luton Town man saw his effort deflected over the crossbar.
Pearson’s side continued on top for the first 20 minutes, and their aggressive high press saw Cheltenham receive little respite.
Joe Williams’ shot was blocked behind by Tom Bradbury before the offside flag spared Cornick’s blushes when the frontman failed to score from inside the six-yard box.
Anis Mehmeti then picked the ball up on the left flank and fizzed a cross into the area, but the ball was inches too high for Cornick to direct it on target.
The Albanian was at the forefront of the away sides attacking threat again moments later when he slid Conway through on goal, but his poked effort was held by Luke Southwood.
For all of City’s possession, it was a rare attack from Wade Elliott’s side that almost provided the breakthrough. Lloyd headed Will Ferry’s cross goalward, and Max O’Leary reacted promptly to gather the ball ahead of the onrushing Dan Adshead.
Minutes later, Ferry’s cross looked to have put the ball on a plate for Keena to slot home, but the fizzed-in cross narrowly evaded the ex-Sligo Rovers man.
But, just as the hosts were gaining some momentum, Tanner opened the scoring. Haydon Roberts found some space on the left and whipped a cross to the back post, where the Scot was positioned to touch and fire a half-volley low into the bottom right corner of Southwood’s goal to give Pearson’s side a narrow half-time advantage.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first half, with City controlling the ball. Williams’ volley was deflected wide before Conway and Zak Vyner saw their headers miss the target.
Despite the visitors’ positive play, committed and resolute defending from Cheltenham ensured that they were still firmly in the game at one down, and they were handed a golden opportunity to equalize from the spot when James was harshly adjudged to have brought down Lloyd in the area. Keena stepped up and slotted coolly past O’Leary for 1-1.
As the clock ticked down, City went in search of a winner. Vyner’s lofted pass found Conway, who could only find the side netting from a tight angle before Jason Knight headed narrowly over the crossbar.
Conway was then replaced by Marlee Francois with 10 minutes to play when he went down injured, and the Australian midfielder came within inches of heading int an empty net moments after his arrival.
City controlled the play until the final whistle but were forced to settle for a draw in Gloucestershire. Pearson’s side travel to Portsmouth for their final pre-season match on Saturday, July 29.
Max O’Leary – 6
Was untroubled in open play, got a hand to the spot kick.
George Tanner – 7
Neat and tidy on the ball and had little defending to do, opened the scoring on the night with an excellent low finish.
Zak Vyner – 7
Tidy on the ball and never looked vulnerable up against Keena.
Raphael Araoye – 8
Comfortable on the ball and picked the right pass more often than not. A very mature display from the teenager.
Haydon Roberts - 7
Gave a good account of himself at left back, stepped forward well at times and provided a good cross to set up Tanner’s opener.
Matty James – 6
A typical on-the-ball performance from the midfielder, kept the ball ticking along and was a steady head in front of the back four. Gave away the spot kick in the second half when Lloyd poked the ball away from his slide tackle, but on review the decision looked incorrect.
Joe Williams – 6
Aggressive out of possession and kept the ball moving in midfield.
Harry Cornick – 6
Was busy and popped up in some dangerous positions, will be disappointed not to have got on the scoresheet but a solid display on the right flank.
Jason Knight – 8
A tenacious display set the tone for the visitors' aggressive pressing. Another steady showing from the new man.
Anis Mehmeti – 6
Was in and out of the game on the left wing, but was always a threat when able to isolate Cheltenham defenders one against one. Lacked end product at times.
Tommy Conway – 7
Looked a threat in behind the Cheltenham backline and dropped off to link the play as well. Came off injured in with 15 minutes to play. Positive performance.
Marlee Francois (subbed on 76’) - 6
Came close to netting a winner when Roberts’ cross evaded him.
Josh Campbell-Slowey (subbed on 90’) - N/A