In a fairly evenly fought match, both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils after a frantic opening 15 minutes or so. James Hanson bundled home from close range inside the first 60 seconds to give City an early lead but Scott Wagstaff fired the visitors level inside the 11th minute of the game. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Gary Jones both hit the woodwork in the second half as both sides pushed for a winner that ultimately wasn’t to come for either side.
Within the opening minute, City got off to the best possible start. Gary Jones’ corner was met by a near post Rory McArdle that came down off the crossbar and into the back of the net to open the scoring.
City were starting brightly and Steve Cotterill’s men were struggling to defend Jones’ set-pieces as his corner was headed powerfully over the bar by stand-in left back Carl McHugh.
The one goal advantage was cancelled out though shortly after when the visitors equalised. A lapse in concentration allowed Scott Wagstaff to get in on the far side and his low shot found the bottom corner despite the best efforts of Jon McLaughlin to keep it out.
Bristol had their tails up at this point and went close through former Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who’s 20 yard shot went narrowly over the bar before Bobby Reid’s low drive crept marginally wide of the bottom corner via the fingertips of McLaughlin.
Jason Kennedy was the next to try his luck and after playing a neat one-two with Garry Thompson he forced Elliot Parish into an uncomfortable save with a firm angled drive from inside the 18 yard box.
Before the half was out, Bobby Reid once again tested McLaughlin before Thompson missed a great chance when he skewed a shot wide after James Hanson had picked him out well with a return pass.
The game was proving to be a great contest and the second half had as frantic a start as the first did and after Marvin Elliott saw a header at the near post go narrowly wide following Greg Cunningham’s cross, McHugh saw an effort blocked in the goalmouth at the other end before Oli McBurnie saw an audacious back-heel attempt blocked on the line by Parish.
Out of the blue, Emmanuel-Thomas almost scored a spectacular goal; after McHugh had only half cleared danger The Robins’ top goalscorer produced a brilliantly hit left footed volley from 25 yards that came back off the inside of the far post.
Oli McBurnie was then denied the chance of scoring his first professional goal by some heroic defending when after collecting Hanson’s knock down he wriggled away from one player before seeing his goal-bound effort blocked by a defender in the 6 yard box.
City were really pushing for a winning goal at this stage and it was Gary Jones’ turn to be denied by the woodwork, producing a dipping 30 yard shot, the ball looked to be heading in and with the skipper prematurely wheeling away to celebrate, the ball came back off the post.
The visitors were offering little at this stage as they main priority seemed to be to defend but McBurnie again went close. Picking up the ball some distance from goal he went on a lung-busting run before seeing his shot kept out smartly by Parish.
Shortly after, McArdle almost added to his goal tally when he emerged from a crowd of bodied in the area to head the ball towards goal from a set-piece only to see the impressive Parish pull off an outstanding save in what would be the last major chance that either side would have at snatching the victory in the latter stages.