Bristolian Duo Recalled For Brentford Test
Posted: Tuesday, December 13th 2016
Tuesday, December 13th 2016
City were made to regret chances not taken as a fortuitous goal inflicted only a third home league defeat of the season on Lee Johnson’s men.
Romaine Sawyers’ pot shot deflected in off team-mate Maxime Colin in the 69th minute to beat Sky Bet Championship debutant Ivan Lucic in the City goal.
Try as they might, the hosts never recovered and will rue numerous opportunities not taken while the scores were still level.
Head coach Johnson made two changes to his side following the 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield Town last time out, recalling Bristolian duo Joe Bryan and Bobby Reid at the expense of Lee Tomlin and Aaron Wilbraham.
A breathless start ensued, with both teams creating chances straight from kick-off.
Brentford were the first to threaten, with overlapping wing-back Colin forcing Bryan into some crucial defending before Aden Flint headed behind a Lasse Vibe shot for a corner.
At the other end, Tammy Abraham fed Reid, who twisted and turned his way into a shooting position but dragged the chance wide on his left foot.
Then Vibe was involved again when he threaded a precise pass through the City defence for danger man Scott Hogan, but the striker was unable to add to his 13 goals for the season as Frank Fielding stuck out a leg to deny him.
This was all inside the first five minutes and there was still no time to rest before Bees goalkeeper Daniel Bentley was called into action not once but twice – parrying Luke Freeman’s powerful drive before tipping a glancing header from Bryan around his right-hand post.
Rarely has there been a more open start to a game at Ashton Gate in recent memory.
City were living dangerously when Hordur Magnusson allowed Hogan to steal in and bear down on goal for a second time. Again the razor-sharp number nine looked favourite to score, but again Fielding was in the right place to thwart him.
Then Freeman tricked his way to the byeline and stood up a beautiful ball volleyed back across goal by Bryan but fractionally behind Abraham, who could not adjust to find the net from no more than four yards out.
An already eventful story lacking only in goals had a new narrative when Fielding began clutching his side and was forced off after 31 minutes.
Enter Lucic, the 21-year-old Austrian keeper whose only previous appearance in English football included a pivotal penalty save in the EFL Cup third round win at Fulham in September.
Rather than being thrust into the mayhem, the time taken for the substitution seemed to bring a period of calm and Lucic was treated to a relatively relaxed introduction.
City continued to press, with Marlon Pack cleverly buying himself a yard of space to deliver a cross headed over by Abraham, before Sawyers inadvertently found Abraham with a stray backpass.
It was a carbon copy of Abraham’s goal against Nottingham Forest at the start of October, but this time the goalkeeper read his intentions and the striker’s attempt to round Bentley was foiled.
Lucic, meanwhile, was looking very confident with his feet but still had not been tested with his hands until Hogan held off the retreating Pack and produced a scuffed shot that the former Bayern Munich stopper plunged to his left to repel.
It had not been a first half brimming with quality but it was certainly entertaining viewing and City soon got back on the front foot after the interval.
Freeman’s long pass over the Brentford defence released Bryan, who inadvertently set up Abraham for a golden chance 12 yards out, only for the Chelsea loanee to send a firm side-footed strike crashing against the top of the crossbar.
Moments later, Pack was drilling the ball across goal for Reid to steer wide from a similarly presentable opening, albeit the chance came to him quickly.
But City nearly shot themselves in the foot when Scott Golbourne caught Sawyers’ disease and sold Lucic short, having the rookie stopper to thank for narrowing the angle and keeping the increasingly frustrated Hogan at bay.
The pace of the game was showing no signs of slowing down, but Johnson needed more composure in front of goal.
Cue a double substitution in the 64th minute; Pack and Golbourne off, Tomlin and Gustav Engvall on.
The change brought Ashton Gate to its feet, with the City supporters excited to catch a first glimpse of Engvall in league action on home soil.
Their team responded quickly, creating the best chance of the match when Reid prised open the defence to send Abraham clean through on goal.
When City’s top scorer lifted the ball over the advancing Bentley, three sides of Ashton Gate waited for the net to ripple only to see it bobble wide of the post.
Abraham then tried to return the favour with a quickly-taken free kick, but Reid’s touch let him down at the vital moment.
City were firmly in the ascendancy but were made to pay for their profligacy when Brentford benefited from a stroke of good fortune, as Sawyers drilled a speculative shot goalwards that cruelly wrongfooted Lucic via a decisive touch from Colin.
The hosts were in shock and in need of inspiration, but now the visitors had a lead to protect and had changed tack.
Tomlin produced a fine ball over the top to release Engvall with a rare opportunity to exploit space behind a defensive line dropping ever deeper, but the Swede allowed his first touch to get away from him and Bentley intervened.
There was no shortage of attacking players on the pitch wearing red shirts, but there was to be no way through and the Londoners held on, despite the best efforts of Lucic who charged forward for a stoppage-time corner to no avail.
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