The Bantams slumped to a heavy defeat at the hands of a rampant Bristol City who sealed a return to the Championship. Goals in the first half scored by James Tavernier and Joe Bryan had Steve Cotterill’s men in cruise control at the interval and the Robins didn’t stop there in the second half. Four second half goals, scored by Luke Ayling, Aden Flint, another from Tavernier and one from Aaron Wilbraham completed the rout.
The visitors started on the front foot, pressing high up the pitch and looking for an opening goal in front of close to 1,000 expectant fans who had travelled up from the South West for a potential promotion party. Gary MacKenzie came close to scoring for City against the run of play when his goalbound prod was held onto by Frank Fielding after Billy Knott’s corner had been headed down by James Hanson.
It was from a set-piece a few minutes later, that the visitors went close to opening the scoring; Luke Freeman’s corner was headed down at the far post, towards goal by Aden Flint and Ben Williams made a smart, yet unorthodox save with his legs.
In the 17th minute, the seemingly inevitable happened and Bristol City took the lead. The first goal of the game was scored by Bradford born James Tavernier; bombing down the right hand side, he saw an initial drive blocked on the line by Stephen Darby before he smashed home the rebound.
The Bantams had half a sniff at an equalising goal shortly after; a hopeful ball back into the mix by Darby was guided into the path by the head of Hanson before Billy Clarke saw a snapshot from 20 yards diverted wide for a corner by the towering figure of Flint.
Bristol’s second goal came in the 35th minute and it was the Robins’ homegrown hero Joe Bryan who got himself on the scoresheet; Freeman kept alive a lost cause and delivered a cross to the far post for the 21 year old to rise higher than Darby and head past Williams.
Kieran Agard had a shot well held onto by Williams and City could’ve pulled one back on the stroke of half-time down the other end. Filipe Morais sliced a shot into the air and Gary Liddle was there to fire a volley from 20 yards which went marginally wide of the target.
The Bantams was presented with another opportunity to pull a goal back and get themselves back into the game when Jon Stead, on as a half-time substitute, lashed the ball wide after he’d latched onto Hanson’s knock-down following Morais’ cross.
Shortly after, Bristol grabbed their third. Luke Ayling, who despite lining up in defence, was enjoying plenty of ventures forward, hit a hopeful shot towards goal from distance which slipped through the arms of Ben Williams to leave City with a mountain to climb.
Just after the hour, Aden Flint scored the visitors’ fourth goal. After Kieran Agard was awarded a dubious free kick, Marlon Pack delivered a perfect ball into the area which left Williams hesitant on whether to stick or twist and Flint, a defender standing at 6 feet 6 inches, powered a header into the back of the net.
Williams made a good save to keep Agard off the score sheet, but he could do little about Bristol’s 5th goal of the evening. Bryan got in behind and running along the back line, he had options in the palm of his hand; he opted to pick out Agard, who saw a shot blocked by Meredith before Tavernier tapped in from a yard out for his second of the game.
Aaron Wilbraham got himself in on the act with just over ten minutes remaining and City well and truly out for the count, and it was another preventable goal. Meredith mis-kicked the ball and Wilbraham went in hunt of the loose ball, ghosting past Rory McArdle before slamming the ball past Williams to put the glaze on top of the cherry, on top of the icing, on top of the cake.
The Bantams did actually have the last chance of the game and it came through substitute Christopher Routis; Tony McMahon’s cross was headed into the air by a Bristol defender and the ball fell kindly to the Frenchman who hit a full volley into the ground and against Frank Fielding’s post, the closest the home team had come to scoring all game in all honesty.
Defeat by six goals is an extremely painful one for City to a side who looked, and factually are, a cut above any in this league this campaign. Phil Parkinson’s men will be looking to pick themselves up ahead of a Yorkshire Derby on Saturday when they travel to Sheffield United.