Bristol City earn deserved victory over Birmingham in six-goal thriller as Mark Sykes scores twice

Antoine Semenyo and Mark Sykes Antoine Semenyo and Mark Sykes
Antoine Semenyo and Mark Sykes | Getty Images
The Robins recorded a first win of 2023 at Ashton Gate on Saturday

Bristol City recorded a first home win in three months as they eased past fellow Championship strugglers Birmingham City 4–2 on Saturday.

Antoine Semenyo made it three goals in three games when he diverted Cam Pring’s cross into the back of the net in the first half before Nahki Wells added a second minutes later.

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Troy Deeney pulled a goal back from the penalty spot before halftime after Tahith Chong was brought down by Pring in the area.

Mark Sykes added a third for the Robins two minutes into the second half and got another in the 66th minute, before Reda Khadra gave the visitors some hope late on.

The result moves Nigel Pearson’s side up to 17th, while the Blues drop down to 18th following a torrid run of form.

The hosts made a positive start to the match and looked eager to make amends for the embarrassing 3-0 defeat to their opponents at St. Andrews earlier this season.

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Zak Vyner in action for the Robins earlier this season Zak Vyner in action for the Robins earlier this season
Zak Vyner in action for the Robins earlier this season | Getty Images

John Eustace’s side were a threat in transition, and Jordan Graham’s long-range effort forced Max O’Leary to scramble and tip the ball behind for a corner early on.

Moments later, the ball fell kindly to Scott Hogan in the penalty area to shoot at goal, but a brilliant last-ditch block from Pring denied the forward.

Pearson’s side looked to exploit the free space in between Birmingham’s defence and midfield as Mark Sykes attempted to force his way onto goal.

Kevin Long bodychecked Sykes before he could penetrate in behind and received a yellow card for his troubles.

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The Robins took a deserved lead with 17 minutes played. Pring travelled down the left flank and fired a ball across goal, Semenyo was in position to guide the ball into the back of the net with his chest from close range.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0. A speculative ball forward from Kal Naismith flew over the top of Long’s head. Wells chased the loose ball and bundled Long out of the way before he slotted calmly past John Ruddy into the goalkeeper’s right-hand corner.

Despite the Robins’ dominance, Eustace’s side were given the chance to get back into the game with half an hour played.

Juninho Bacuna rode three challenges in the middle of the park and found Deeney, who played the ball to Chong.

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The tricky winger twisted and turned in the area and Pring dangled a leg which caught the no. 18 to give referee John Busby no choice but to point to the spot. Deeney stepped up and smashed the ball straight down the middle past O’Leary.

Pearson’s side regained control of the match and went into halftime with a narrow lead.

It didn’t take long for the Robins to assert themselves in the second period, and they restored their two-goal cushion in the 47th minute.

Pring went on a mazy run down the left, where he left three Birmingham defenders in his wake before he squared the ball across goal for Sykes to slot home with his left foot.

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Following a brief spell of pressure from the visitors, Pearson’s side began to assert themselves again and pass the ball around confidently in search of a fourth.

In the 66th minute, Sykes netted again. Alex Scott won possession back in his own half and Pring emerged with the ball.

Pring picked out Semenyo who bolted down the line and pulled the ball back for Sykes to slot into an empty net.

Reda Khadra was one man linked with a move to the Robins earlier in the transfer window but instead opted to join Birmingham on loan last week.

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Pearson’s side were given a taste of what they missed out on when the German latched onto a ball in behind and fired into O’Leary’s top left corner with 15 minutes to play.

The visitors huffed and puffed in search of a late comeback, but the Robins held on comfortably for their first home win since October.

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