The reason Bristol City fell to Sunderland defeat and the key man who made it happen

Bristol City suffered defeat on their opening home game. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)Bristol City suffered defeat on their opening home game. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Bristol City suffered defeat on their opening home game. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
One player was the difference in Bristol City’s 3-2 defeat to Sunderland on Saturday afternoon

Bristol City fell short of expectations as they suffered a second consecutive defeat to Sunderland in front of a crowd of over 24,000 at Ashton Gate.

The Robins came from behind to take the lead as Andi Weimann cancelled out Ellis Simms’ opener and then Chris Martin put them in front.

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But habits from last season continued to creep in as Simms equalised before Ross Stewart won the game for the Black Cats, meaning points again were dropped from a winning position.

The unplayable Simms

Attack is not a problem for City as has been proven with Weimann getting a goal and assist, whilst Martin was also on target and Antoine Semenyo is to come back.

Simms though is the calibre of player that needs to be targeted if the loan market is the strategy for the remainder of the transfer window.

From the kick-off, he was a handful for the defence and was in the right place to pick up the loose ball from Kal Naismith and thump it home in a quick-thought move.

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For his equaliser, he was able to peel away from Zak Vyner before cheekily nutmegging Bentley in the goal.

Wasn’t it not for a save from Daniel Bentley from point-blank range he would be taking home the match ball.

Young and hungry players capable of doing it in the Championship is what City are looking for and if a newly promoted team can sell it to Everton that they can develop someone, then the same has to be replicated.

Naismith’s struggles

It’s the same system but the same things are happening which are goals being conceded too cheaply.

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Kal Naismith, brought in from last season’s play-off semi-finalists Luton Town, has been tasked with being the central defender of the back three, which is tricky.

He’s expected to lead and organise with Rob Atkinson and Zak Vyner to either side of him.

Naismith though didn’t have the best of starts to the game having been caught in possession and punished by Stewart and Simms.

As City’s players celebrated Weimann’s equaliser, Bentley shared a moment with Naismith to try and motivate him which worked for the remainder of the half.

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The Scotland international improved and made a telling sliding block to deny Simms, whilst also getting in the way of some shots.

For the second-half however, CIty’s defence were overloaded on one side and he was caught in a difficult position to try and get back and was unsuccessful in presenting their equaliser.

For the third, he and Atkinson are playing on Sunderland’s front two and Stewart is able to position himself better for the cushioned header.

There’s a good player there in Naismith and there’s a reason why Pearson signed him as he’s got obvious leadership qualities but acclimatising to this new system isn’t going to happen overnight.

Midfield enforcer needed as Matty James

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Matty James’ complete withdrawal from the side just before kick-off yesterday was no help to their preparations.

Player-coach Andy King was brought into the match-day squad but out of the five substitutes they made he wasn’t one of them which was fair enough when they were chasing a way back into the game.

City are having to work astutely in the transfer market at the moment but what Saturday’s game showed is the need for a midfield enforcer or at least someone with a defensively minded midfielder.

It’s likely that any new signing will be a loan addition and there has to be a midfielder out there who will stick to that position, helping Joe Williams.

Alex Scott was having to come in deep and carry out some defensive duties which stops him from influencing the game from an attacking position.

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