Episode three of the Robins Nest podcast available
Posted: Wednesday, April 1st 2020
Saturday, October 22nd 2016
Aaron Wilbraham was the hero as City left it late to get back to winning ways against Blackburn Rovers at Ashton Gate.
Wilbraham, who arrived as a 68th-minute substitute, led a counter-attack all on his own with only two minutes left, eventually scoring with the help of a deflection as Rovers defenders retreated in vain.
It had been a frustrating afternoon up to that point for the hosts, but not for the first time this season Lee Johnson’s brave substitutions paid dividends as his team chased victory.
The head coach made four changes to his side following the midweek defeat at QPR, including a first start since April 23rd for Korey Smith.
Elsewhere, there were recalls for Scott Golbourne, Jamie Paterson and Luke Freeman, while Joe Bryan, Josh Brownhill, Callum O’Dowda and Bobby Reid (dead leg) missed out.
Ashton Gate’s second-highest crowd of the season paid their respects to a true City legend before kick-off, as a minute’s silence was observed in honour of the late Gerry Gow.
Having struggled in the early weeks of the season, Blackburn had taken ten points from their previous six games, and set about making an early impression in BS3 when Ben Marshall’s shot deflected narrowly wide off Golbourne.
City were not at their fluent best. Both Aden Flint and Paterson went into the book inside the first 20 minutes – Flint for a dubious trip on Craig Conway, who appeared to have overrun the ball, and Paterson for lunging in on Danny Guthrie.
Smith was looking busy in the middle of the park, rediscovering his familiar energetic style and bite in the tackle, while Lee Tomlin was full of ideas, but City were unable to trouble Jason Steele in the Rovers goal.
An injury to Marvin Emnes on the half-hour allowed Johnson a minute or two to get some messages across to his players, but Tomlin’s scuffed shot wide from distance was the only half-chance before the interval.
Derrick Williams’ return to Ashton Gate was cut to just 49 minutes as he limped off to a generous round of applause from a crowd made up of nearly 21,000 home supporters alone – the highest number in recent memory.
Gradually City began to put their visitors under increasing pressure. From their most presentable opportunity so far, Paterson eyed up the top corner but could not keep his shot down from 20 yards.
Tammy Abraham was biding his time waiting for a chance of his own, not being helped by a series of soft free kicks that only added to his own frustration, not to mention the vast majority inside Ashton Gate.
City rode their luck from a rare Blackburn breakaway when Sam Gallagher’s cross was delivered just fractionally behind the unmarked Craig Conway, before Gallagher’s intended flick missed the ball from close range.
Paterson then weaved his way into the box only to see his left-footed shot deflected behind for a corner, which would prove his last action of the game.
By now the midpoint in the second half, Johnson introduced Wilbraham and Taylor Moore in place of Paterson and Adam Matthews.
Moore immediately made his presence felt, driving into Rovers territory with a run that paved the way for Smith to fire a loose ball wide of the near post.
Bryan arrived with 15 minutes left, unusually replacing Freeman on the right flank. When he cut back on to his left foot and delivered a devilish cross that ran right through the danger zone, the plan was apparent.
The Bristolian was involved again when he vacated his touchline for a second time, dummied to shoot and then struck a powerful drive heading straight for the far corner until it struck a blue and white shirt.
But City would not be denied and struck gold with two minutes to go, as Wilbraham ran on to a ball over the top of the Blackburn defence.
Biding his time as he waited for support, the skipper’s decision was made for him when Abraham stumbled, leaving Wilbraham to go alone.
Cutting inside on to his left foot, his low shot beat Steele with the help of a deflection to bring Ashton Gate to its feet and propel City back into the top six.
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