Bristol City’s unprecedented Carabao Cup run and Championship campaign has continued over the past fortnight. A purple patch to match the questionable purple and lime away kits.
The robins reached the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday 24th October and secured a last eight tie at home to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
The robins’ 4-1 disposal of Crystal Palace was impressive in itself. A 25-yard volley from Callum O’Dowda and an outrageous strike from Joe Bryan helped condemn the Premier League’s bottom club.
Last Saturday, Lee Johnson’s team got back to winning ways in the league. A 2-1 triumph over Sunderland was the perfect reply to the 3-0 defeat to Leeds United on the 21st October.
Bobby Reid scored twice in two matches with neat finishes against Sunderland and against Fulham. Bosnian substitute Milan Djuric scored in the 2-0 win with a thumping header. Korey Smith also netted for the first time since 2014 in those games.
Yesterday afternoon the run continued after a 2-1 home victory against Cardiff City. The club’s first Severnside derby win in 5 years has propelled the BS3 club to within a point of the promotion places.
Scintillating Cup form
City are the only non-top flight outfit left in the last eight of the Carabao Cup. They have scored 14 goals in their four cup games, conceding just three; and disposing of three Premier League sides in the process.
City deployed second-string line ups in the cup games leading upto the Palace match, making their progress all the more impressive. 17-year-old Freddie Hinds bagged two 25 yard strikes in the 3-2 win at Watford and in the 5-0 home victory versus Plymouth.
Academy debutantes Lloyd Kelly and Tyreen Bakinson also impressed. Fringe players like Djuric, Hordur Magnusson and Matt Taylor have shone as well.
Bristol City’s squad depth, accumulated through progressive academy development and three productive transfer windows, is being fully utilised.
City then landed a last eight tie against Manchester United at Ashton Gate in December. The robins will face the red devils for the first time since 1979.
The BS3 club last reached the quarter-final stage of the League Cup in 1989, the Championship club have also beaten one less Premier League team than Liverpool this campaign.
Astute counter-attacking away performances
Back-to-back wins against Sunderland and Fulham demonstrated the shrewd, and as Johnson describes as the ‘steely’, nature of the robins’ performances of late.
Bobby Reid’s downward nod and Djuric’s header after a clever Callum O’Dowda cross exemplified the counter attacking performance. Irish winger O’Dowda’s step overs and shot in the second half demonstrated his confidence after the 22-year-old’s first goal for City against Palace.
City looked solid at the back yet it was noticeable how much they missed Nathan Baker in defence when he left the field injured. Ryan Sessengon’s early strike hit the bar giving the visitors an early scare, but City made the most of their opportunities.
City were prudent with 42% of possession and six fewer shots, but five on target compared to Fulham’s three. Johnson’s side looked in control in the second half, especially after Aboukhar Kamara’s sending off.
Assistant head coach Jamie McAllister expressed his delight after the final whistle. “Fulham are a very good side with great quality. This was another great win, and another clean sheet, our eighth of the season.
We play with high energy and work together as a unit, with no passengers. We’re in a good place at the moment with good spirit.”
Continuing the momentum
One of the biggest Servernside derbies in recent times awaited this Saturday. Neil Warnock’s second-placed Cardiff City at a 20,000+ attended Ashton Gate were condemned in a scrappy encounter.
Callum O’Dowda netted with a calm finish. He has five assists and two goals for the season. Aden Flint’s fourth of the campaign in between an Omar Bogle goal and sending off sealed the famous win.
The robins are just five points below Wolves in first position. The reds are experiencing their best start to a Championship campaign since the season that they lost in the play-off final to Hull City in 2007/08.
It is vital that the momentum continues. Lee Johnson’s team have lost just two games this season and are now unexpectedly promotion candidates.
A hindrance upon the promising run may be the injuries to Nathan Baker and Eros Pisano in defence. Former Aston Villa centre half Baker suffered a recurrence of an ongoing knee problem against Sunderland. He was left out of the side against Fulham while Pisano has been ruled out for upto four months.
Baker’s partnership with Aden Flint has been crucial to the BS3 club’s solid performances of late.
Australian international Bailey Wright has also been faultless in defence since his move from Preston. Frank Fielding in goal has been playing consistently well with much improved kicking and eight clean sheets.
Form of Bobby Reid and Famara Diedhiou has also been pivotal. All over the pitch there is strength in depth and Johnson has acquired the steely backbone to match the slick possession based football, the former of which was lacking last season.
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