Sam Bell at the double as Bristol City thrash West Brom to progress in FA Cup
Two-goal hero Sam Bell helped Bristol City into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 thrashing over West Brom.
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Bell made the most of a mix-up in the Albion defence as he blasted the hosts into the lead before the 15-minute mark, before fellow youngster Scott doubled the Robins’ lead from close range with 28 minutes played.
The tie was put to bed minutes into the second period when an exquisite first touch and neat chipped finish from Bell extended Nigel Pearson’s side’s lead to three.
Much of the build-up to the game was dominated by the news of Antoine Semenyo’s £9.5million move to Bournemouth, but City showed no sign of fragility with a top performance on the day. The win marks a seventh match without defeat for the Robins, as their impressive run continues.
The draw for the fifth round will take place at 7.00 pm on Monday, January 30, as City’s potential opponents in the last 16 include Leicester City, Leeds United, and Manchester City, with Manchester United and Liverpool to play later.
City made a positive start to the match and looked eager to avenge their 2-0 defeat inflicted by Carlos Corberan’s side on Boxing Day.
The Baggies weren’t shy in attempting to assert their presence in the game either, as a competitive opening 10 minutes set the tone for the remainder of the afternoon.
12 minutes in, the Robins took the lead. Following a City corner, the Albion backline failed to effectively clear their lines. As two defenders hesitated, the loose ball fell perfectly for Bell to fire a thundering right-footed effort into the left-hand corner of David Button’s goal on the youngster’s first start of the season.
The Robins continued to attack and as the ball fell in behind Semi Ajayi, Nahki Wells almost managed to prod the ball past the enriching Button. But the Nigerian defender just did enough to put off City’s top scorer this term.
Despite Nigel Pearson’s sides threat up top, Albion reminded the hosts of their own menace going forward.
Tomas Rojic shot over from a promising position before Jed Wallace’s determination saw him dispossess last man Rob Atkinson, but his deflected effort fall kindly into the hands of Max O’Leary. Okay Yokuslu then saw his flicked header fall narrowly wide from an Adam Reach corner.
Corberan’s side were made to rue their missed chances on the half-hour mark, as Scott netted his first City goal of the campaign. Kal Naismith won the ball back in the middle of the park and played the ball to Wells, who slid through Mark Sykes down the right-hand side. The Northern Irishman fired across goal for Scott to smash the ball past the Albion keeper.
The visitors though weren’t down for long, and Daryl Dike would’ve pulled a goal back almost instantly, if not for a strong save from the right boot of O’Leary.
Neither side could make any further in-roads as City held a comfortable advantage at the break.
The Robins didn’t have to wait long for a third, as a moment of brilliance from Bell saw him net his second of the afternoon. It appeared that the 20-year-old had too much to do when George Tanner fired in a low cross to the edge of the area. But a perfect first touch from the academy graduate took all the pace off the ball, and as Button looked to have closed off the angle, Bell’s delicate chip flew over the goalkeeper and into the net.
As the game went on, Albion began to grow frustrated as they looked to have accepted their fate.
City continued in search of a fourth, and man of the moment Bell looked destined to complete his hattrick when Scott slid the no. 20 through on goal.
The striker had plenty of grass to run into, but his first touch allowed Button to close the angle off enough and deny Bell a third.
Despite the seemingly inevitable result, Brandon Thomas-Asante’s introduction for the Baggies sparked some improvement form Corberan’s side. The forward has good memories of Ashton Gate following his brilliant goal in Albion’s 2-0 win in December, and if not for a string of top saves from O’Leary, the ex-Salford City man would’ve been on the scoresheet again.
As the clock ticked on, some gritty defending from the Robins helped see out the game in style. They will return to Championship action at Preston North End on Saturday, February 4.