Tale of the match: Conway's calmness sees Bristol City edge past Sunderland

Bristol City 1-0 Sunderland
Liam Manning on the Ashton Gate touchlineLiam Manning on the Ashton Gate touchline
Liam Manning on the Ashton Gate touchline

Tommy Conway's first-half penalty proved vital as Bristol City edged past EFL Championship rivals Sunderland at Ashton Gate.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman pounced on a loose pass in the penalty area and Black Cats' keeper Anthony Patterson duly brought the midfielder down.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alex Pritchard struck the crossbar twice for the visitors and both Luke O'Nien and Jobe Bellingham were denied by a brilliant Max O'Leary in the second period, but City were well worth the victory.

The Robins move into 14th after the win, just six points off West Brom in 6th.

City made an aggressive start to proceedings, and striker Conway was cautioned less than a minute into the match after a late tackle on O’Nien.

However, their early pressure soon subsided, and the visitors were allowed to control the play for the opening minutes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was City though, who almost won a penalty after some careless Sunderland play deep in their half.

O’Nien’s attempted pass across goal took a deflection and Mark Sykes got a toe on the ball in front of Daniel Ballard. But the referee waved away City’s shouts for a spot kick.

Moments later the Black Cats came within inches of forcing an opening goal when Pritchard’s corner caught O’Leary off-guard and bounced off the crossbar.

The visitors crafted a couple of opportunities through Patrick Roberts, but another slack moment at the back proved costly as City were awarded a penalty before the 20-minute mark.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jason Knight cut out Patterson’s pass and Gardner-Hickman latched onto the loose ball.

The goalkeeper rushed out and caught the midfielder and Stephen Martin correctly pointed to the spot.

Despite his patchy form in front of goal recently, Conway stepped up and sent Patterson the wrong way to give City the advantage.

The goal no doubt sparked the hosts into life, and they were the better side for the next 15 minutes or so.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Anis Mehmeti got free down the left flank and after some quick footwork, fired a low effort back off the foot of Patterson’s left-hand post.

Soon after, Gardner-Hickman stride forward with the ball and struck a brilliant moving effort from 25 yards towards the top corner which the away keeper palmed behind.

Sunderland, though, were by no means hanging on, and their danger man Roberts crafted a close-range chance for Jack Clarke before firing wide himself.

Mike Dodds’ team began to assert themselves once more towards the end of the first half as Pritchard struck the bar once more from a set piece, but the Black Cats couldn’t draw level.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The pattern continued after the break, and Pierre Ekwah’s long-range effort gave O’Leary a scare as the goalkeeper parried behind.

Minutes later, Pritchard’s corner found O’Nien at the back post, whose header looked set to nestle into the corner, but O’Leary got down brilliantly to claw away off the goal line.

The game went on similarly, but Sunderland struggled to create any openings of note outside of set pieces.

But that method almost came good once again when substitute Bellingham climbed higher than everyone to nod towards goal, and it took yet another stretching hand from O’Leary to deny the young talent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As the visitors pushed to draw level, gaps appeared defensively. Andi Weimann released Harry Cornick through on goal, and the forward looked to have been taken down by Ballard, but the referee said no.

The drama wasn't over and in stoppage time, Ballard went down himself in the City area, to the home side's relief, the official once again saw nothing wrong.

Emotions boiled over late in the match, but City held on for a vital three points.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.