The city of Bristol is one place where our changing fortunes over the last few years can be quite clearly seen. Last time out a 2-1 win against Bristol Rovers sent Bolton Wanderers top of League One after an unexpectedly good start to the season. The time before was of course the 6-0 loss which obliterated the slight optimism of the post-Lennon era before it had even really begun.
This time out was always going to be tricky against one of the leagues highest scoring teams. Damage limitation was likely to be the order of the day.
A first start was afforded to Karl Henry less than 24 hours after his signing was confirmed. He played alongside Darren Pratley and the pair went about their work well breaking up Bristol City’s play, and conceding a fair few of the 20 free-kicks given away.
The first 40 minutes of the match was rather uneventful. There was barely a shot on goal, and indeed none for the men in white as Bolton showed little up top to indicate they would trouble City and City were being frustrated by a well organised defensive effort from the midfield and defence.
Then came the opener. A good ball down the right opened up some space for City. The cut back across goal was always imminent and yet the runners were able to get free with ease, less close marking more a 40 year old bloke trying to keep tabs on a dog who has just seen a cat in the park.
City were one up, and once again it was too easy, and once again we were undone by the oppositions first real chance of the match.
The rest of the half played out with little incident until Filipe Morais saw fit to lung in studs up on his opponent. It may have been a harsh second yellow, and I don’t even recall the first which probably says a lot about that, and/or the amount I had drunk. All the same it was an unbelievably stupid tackle for a player looking increasingly out of his depth in the Championship.
The second half was always likely to become attack vs defence and most of it proved to be just that. To Bolton’s credit there were not all that many clear goalscoring opportunities for City who often looked unsure how to break us down.
Then there was a free-kick. The initial effort was blacked only for the rebound to drop to an onrushing City player whose shot deflected into the opposite corner. Mark Howard had no chance, it was the classic goal which you concede in a situation like ours.
That could have been a sucker punch, the break through which opened the flood gates, but it wasn’t. City had a few good chances, forcing some good saves from Howard, who ruined my 2.5 or more goals bet. But it did not become an onslaught and although a third a goal would not have flattered City it would have been harsh on Bolton.
Bolton also had some half chances. Gary Madine set himself up and forced a save out of Franky Fielding. Jeff King delivered the one good cross of the game from a Bolton player. Madine looped the header over the keeper only to see the shot cleared off the line.
Adam Le Fondre had the one other Bolton shot on target but this was straight at Fielding in the City goal. It was a weak shot but he had little in the way of other options, it was like watching my five a side team trying to find space while simultaneously hiding behind a defender so as not to get the ball.
The third goal though was only ever going to fall to City, but they couldn’t quite find it.
Another fairly toothless Bolton display. The extra bite and defensive soundness was welcome, but when you still lose 2-0 it is hard to be that upbeat about it.