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Too Little, Too Late, Leaves City Pondering A Play-Off Fate

Stoke 2 v 1 Bristol City - Review and ratings 

 

By Bristol Boy

 

So, Hull had lost, all the chasing pack had either lost or drawn and the scene was set for a City win that would have taken us into the automatic places, two games away from the promised land.

 

The fans were bellowing their support & beliefÖ bouncing too, and a full part of the atmosphere amongst a 24,000 crowd at The Britannia.

 

Sky were there and the British public were ready to witness Bristol City, masters of the passing game, the Arsenal of The Championship, some would have us believe, destroy the binary boy and his team of loan mercenaries without the ethic & belief of ďour group of playersĒÖ Didnít work out that way though, did it??

 

As much as it hurts me to say it, we didnít turn up until the 65th minute and our first half performance would be a great video to demonstrate ineffective passing & lack of passing, penetration & guile.  The players didnít seem to believe they could do it and McAllister's clumsy & needless foul on Lawrence gifted Stoke a set piece that they profited from as Siddibe, who terrorised our defence all night, rose to head powerfully past Basso from eight yards from Lawrenceís well delivered, flat, pacey cross.

 

A defence without an ounce of pace couldnít afford to be caught high up the pitch, so thatís where we defended and Siddibe ran through unchallenged to slot past Basso to win the game. It must be the winner against a team that canít score goals, especially from open play and whose confidence is now in tatters.

 

I can sum up the first half in a sentence: ďEvery time they attacked they looked like scoring, every time we attacked, we didnít!Ē

 

Without the injured Brooker (where have I heard that before?) we have successfully climbed the table and been in the top six since September so it canít all be down to that, although his absence, and the comparison drawn by many fans I spoke to with Lee Matthews, is a worry: Good player, never fit.

 

Lee Johnsonís absence robbed City of any quality from set pieces, and we had plenty of them as Stoke gave a master class on workrate & closing down against a team without the necessary quality to give service to their strikers and wide players, who spent much of the first half standing alongside their central midfield partners as Stoke were given the freedom of the flanks to launch crosses & attacks.

 

Big money signings Ivan Sproule & Nicky Carle were also absent with £1m man Lee Trundle only rated worthy of a place on the bench. Cityís starting line up added up to about £500k.

 

Stokeís defence didnít know they were in a game until Johnsonís frustration at this dire and uncompetitive first half performance, saw the introduction of Trundle & Noble for the ineffective Wilson & Byfield. Entirely predictable, but in truth, Nobleís introduction on the right wing did nothing for delivery, pace & quality from that area and, apart from the goal, which may have even been a OG, Nash didnít have a real save to make all night.

 

Whilst passing football was the norm early doors, with our home game on SKY against Sheff Utd being exemplary, we are now a whoosh team on most occasions and weíre not good at it. Itís not down to the signing of Adebola, because we played our best football of late in the second half at Charlton and the big man was a part of that. Heís also got his goals.

 

Itís not down to the absence of Lee Johnson either, because we were rank & whooshed it at Southampton & Leicester when the little man played in both. That absence of flair, belief & real passion, is the central conundrum for GJ to resolve and until that returns neither will the belief that we can win through the play-offs amongst many of our supporters.

 

As injuries & mental fatigue bite, his strategy of not reinforcing the squad with experience, pace & quality looks more high risk than ever.

 

After our goal, probably just before it to be fair, McIndoe had decided to play on the left wing and was causing problems - Stoke are no super team, itís just that we didnít try to find out until the last twenty minutes. As City started to retain possession and pass the ball, we looked more of a threat.

 

All of a sudden, their goal was under pressure and defenders, previously confident & cool, started to panic although, Pulisís team were still the better side and should have had more goals. The fact that they didnít, tells you what an opportunity we had at 5.20pm yesterday and, once again, it saddens me to say the most prevalent comment I heard, not for the first time in recent weeks was ďtypical City: big following, big let downĒ

 

You could rate City up to the 65th minute and after and the marks would be different, however, that wouldnít be fair and the game over ninety minutes didnít make me feel that my journey had been worthwhile.

 

The vast disappointment amongst City fans leaving the game was loud, freely given & evident.

 

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City lined up 4-4-2:
 

Basso

 

 

 

 

Orr

Carey

McCombe

McAllister

 

 

 

 

Wilson

Skuse

Elliottt

McIndoe

 

 

 

 

                Adebola

Byfield           

 

Subs (used)

Trundle

Noble

Vasko

 

Not used:

Weale

Fontaine

 

TEAM RATINGS

 

Passing: 5/10

 

Set Pieces: 3/10

 

Commitment: 6/10

 

Entertainment Value: 5/10

 

Defending: 5/10

 

Attacking: 4/10

 

PLAYER RATINGS

 

BASSO: 7/10 One world-class save in the second half and generally competent handling & kicking.

 

ORR:5/10: Looked stretched but kept the effort up.

 

CAREY: 5/10 Lost form since his latest injury and another game when he came out second best to the strikers.

 

MCCOMBE: 5/10 Worked hard but struggled against the quality of Siddibe & Fuller.

 

MCALLISTER: 5/10 Struggled against the cleverness & quality of Liam Lawrence and needlessly conceded the free kick that lead to the goal that set the tone for the first half. Unforced error in the second could have finished us off.

 

SKUSE: 5/10 Came into the game late on, just like his teamates, however, lacks the ability to play in a two man central midfield at this level.

 

ELLIOTT: 5/10 Whilst looking stronger & fitter, not the player he was in the first thirty or so games of the season and gave the ball away far too much.

 

WILSON: 4/10 (Withdrawn) After doing well as  stand in right back for Orr, his efforts on the right wing still leave City with a vacancy in that position and his fluffed free kick before half time summed up his game.

 

MCINDOE: 7/10 The last twenty five minutes saw him revert to the left wing and it made a great difference as he actually played in some telling crosses. Now Michael, STAY THERE!!!

 

BYFIELD: 4/10 (Withdrawn) Ineffective, and should only appear as a sub.

 

ADEBOLA: 6/10 Forlorn first half as what is becoming our usual lack of creativity saw him isolated. Came into the game in the second half and helped/scored the goal from a rare good set piece delivery.

 

SUBS:

 

NOBLE: 6/10 At least tried to support Orr, but would have been far more effective in his more central, withdrawn role.

 

VASKO: 4/10 Desperation cameo summed up our lack of ideas & guile.

 

TRUNDLE: 6/10 Produced some moments of quality that were an oasis in a desert of style.

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