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City Held To Goalless Draw

Bristol City played in front of the towering new West Stand for the first time in their last friendly of the summer as Portsmouth held Lee Johnson’s side to a goalless draw at Ashton Gate.

A slow first half gave way to a more open second, but both goalkeepers made saves when called upon to preserve the deadlock.

Johnson stuck with the 4-3-3 formation used against Cheltenham Town on Monday, with eight of the starting XI unchanged.

Adam Matthews made his second City debut at right-back as one of three alterations, with Bobby Reid preferred to Josh Brownhill and Gary O’Neil’s knee injury forcing a reshuffle that saw Scott Golbourne start at left-back and Joe Bryan move into midfield.

City showed early glimpses of intent, notably when Jonathan Kodjia’s deflected shot had to be hacked clear by Christian Burgess, before the giant Portsmouth defender glanced a header wide from a teasing Milan Lalkovic cross.

Then Bryan’s switch to the left flank seemed to increase his threat. Twice he ran at the Pompey defence, once crossing low towards Kodjia before firing a low shot towards the bottom corner, but both times goalkeeper David Forde was in the right place.

In truth it was fairly low-key stuff, and the visitors came closest to scoring as half-time approached when Callum O’Dowda was caught in possession by Gary Roberts.

Roberts resisted the temptation to have a go himself from a tight angle and saw his cutback to Lalkovic intercepted, before left-back Enda Stevens took the more direct route with a thumping shot kept out by Richard O’Donnell.

Matthews, Reid and O’Dowda were all replaced on the hour, with minutes on the pitch and fresh legs still the priority for Johnson ahead of next weekend’s big kick-off.

City twice threatened from corners in quick succession, as central defenders Hordur Magnusson and Aden Flint both had half-chances to break the deadlock.

A far more presentable opportunity fell Kodjia’s way when fed by substitute Luke Freeman, as the striker eluded the offside trap only to find Forde flying out quickly to deny him.

Then the Republic of Ireland international had to be alert to keep out Magnusson at his near post.

City were turning the screw but Pompey’s travelling contingent in excess of 700 were making themselves heard when Carl Baker forced O’Donnell into a spectacular save high to his right, before Roberts saw a deflected shot loop into the air and headed off the line by Luke Ayling as it dropped goalwards.

O’Donnell made two further saves from Michael Doyle and one from Roberts, while Magnusson made an important clearance to preserve City’s clean sheet.

Bristol City: O’Donnell, Matthews (Ayling 60), Flint, Magnusson, Golbourne (J.Smith 83), Reid (Brownhill 60), Pack, Bryan, O’Dowda (Freeman 61), Kodjia (Agard 77), Tomlin (Wilbraham 77).

Attendance: 5,317 (721).