Nigel Pearson must fix Bristol City defence though Robins showed good signs at Luton Town
Plenty to admire in the West Country outfit’s display at Kenilworth Road, if familiar frustrations too.
It may have been a good time to go to Luton Town on Tuesday night, with several Hatters missing.
Without Harry Cornick and Sonny Bradley due to injury, and Reece Burke suspended, the visitors may have been hopeful of heading to Bedfordshire and following up Saturday’s Severnside Derby with another positive result.
The former Gas defender scored the first goal from a corner, heading in James Bree’s cross, and then won the initial header in the lead-up for the second, eventually bundled in via a combination of Cameron Pring and Elijah Adebayo, on 68 minutes.
That made is just one win in 11 games against Luton, ended the opportunity to make it successive wins for the first time this season. Consistency remains beyond this Bristol City team just yet.
The West Country outfit have lost seven of their last nine away games, with a win on the road last coming at the start of October at Peterborough United.
With two games away from Ashton Gate up next, the Robins have the chance to rectify that form immediately however.
The small details
Though Bristol City have defensive problems, Tuesday night’s concessions could so easily have been avoided.
Zak Vyner went down with a jarred knee and was off the pitch for treatment as Luton Town took advantage just before the break, scoring from a short corner routine as Lockyer beat Alex Scott, Jay Dasilva, Max O’Leary and Cam Pring to the ball.
And for the second goal, Pring (who did enjoy a good game overall) let the ball run under his foot, then committing a foul to win back the ball and gettimg a yellow card.
It was from the resulting free-kick that Luton grabbed their second goal as Lockyer won the first header and the ball was forced in from close range. Such fine margins and small detaisl can decide victory.
That meant that City remain without a clean sheet on the road this season. They have conceded 10 goals in three games away from home now, but with a bit more steel in the middle this result could have been different.
Luton only had one shot on target all game, bar for their two goals, and if City can solve their weakness on set-pieces, a long-running problem stemming back to last year when the Robins were the worst team in the division at this aspect of the game, they will improve.
Onwards and upwards
After Tuesday night, that was eight goals goals conceded from set-pieces this season, but with five Championship sides having conceded more (Reading, Hull, Blackpool, Peterbrough and Stoke).
The good news is that Robbie Cundy, excellent in the air, completed 90 minutes on Tuesday for the U23s and may be able to contribute imminently, while a deal could be wrapped up soon for 6ft4’ defender Timm Klose as well, bringing reinforcements at the back.
That’s if Rob Atkinson’s scan on his back problem means he’s out for some time, and with Nathan Baker not expected back this season.
Pearson was coy on the possibility of arrivals following the game on Tuesday night.
Whether Dan Bentley is recalled too, will surely be considered by Nigel Pearson as O’Leary looked a fair bit short of commanding his own box at Kenilworth Road.
O’Leary’s short game is tidy and his shot-stopping excellent of late. But Bentley’s superiority on collecting crosses may be more beneficial and the City no.1 could be recalled at the weekend.
Plenty of positives
But all of the above is to dwell on just a few moments of the game against Luton, when City were very good for the most part.
Indeed, the South West side started on the front foot and dominated the home side, who may have been affected by six changes being made from their loss to Sheffield United at the weekend.
Han-Noah Massengo and Alex Scott ran the midfield for long periods, and the former Guernsey FC man in particular really caught the eye centrally.
There was yet another assist for Antoine Semenyo as he set up Andi Weimann’s 14th goal of the league season and the Austrian was close to netting late in the game as he swivelled in the box. Nahki Wells also saw a good chance come off the post.
A draw may have been the fair result but in football you don’t always get what you deserve.
Bristol City need to patch themselves up, dust themselves down ahead of facing Preston and work hard to finally eradicate those weaknesses. Then we may well see a side that is really moving in the right direction, with Zak Vyner, Cam Pring and Callum O’Dowda all doing well in this encounter.
If Nigel Pearson can’t fix things on the training pitch then the club must look to make changes to the personnel, as this current team lacks physicality to really make a dent in the English second tier.