Bristol City 3 - West Bromwich Albion 2
A dismal first half display surely saw Albion lose any last lingering hope of keeping in touch with the automatic promotion places. With Gibbs still only on the bench and Ahmed Hegazi suspended, trying to play out of defence away from home would surely be a bad idea, and so it proved after just 62 seconds when Jake Livermore was dispossessed and the box filled with red shirts, Josh Brownhill getting the final touch.
By half time, they were three goals down thanks to Andreas Weimann and Jack Hunt, and responded by swapping forward Kyle Edwards for defender Tosin Adarabioyo. You could be forgiven for thinking this might just be damage limitation, but bizarrely the game swung in their favour, Dwight Gayle pulling the first one back almost as quickly as Bristol's opener and Jay Rodriguez reducing the deficit to just one with a quarter of an hour left to go.
But the mountain was too large to climb to even snatch a draw and Bristol moved to just five points and one place behind Albion in the table. Albion's drop in form with just five games left before the playoffs is not reflecting well on the decisions being made in the Boardroom.
Starting 11 had me really worried. Bartley always a worry, Livermore/Rodriguez/Johansen picked again after terrible performances, Gibbs still not in for the willing but limited Townsend.
I was hoping for a blood and snot opening but we were passive and terrible.
The first goal came from a terrible blind pass from Bartley back to Johnstone, a moronic pass out to Livermore under pressure and a pathetic demonstration of awareness from Livermore to try and turn out instead of just getting rid. These are all supposedly multi-million pound footballers.
What was the message from the coaches? Be solid and take no chances first 10? Do these arrogant idiots think we’re Man City?
The rest of the opening 20 minutes were a horror show.
The second goal was so basic - Bartley not goal side from long throw and the ball again poked through Johnstone.
The third was an all at sea mess through the back 4, a weak header at the back post that again Johnstone palmed into the net instead of away. Harsh? Maybe but he’s an expensive keeper who isn’t a kid any more.
Such is the quality in the championship we might have nicked 2 goals in the first half and we might also have conceded more. Our midfield were woeful. Despite having numbers in there we didn’t win a 2nd ball, and were in permanent no mans land - seemingly never being deep enough to mop up or high enough to support attacks.
I think we could’ve subbed any player from the keeper through the team apart from Gayle but Shan went 3-5-2 at half time.
We nicked a decent goal right after kick-off and then dominated the ball although Bristol looked far more cohesive and likely to score on the break.
As HRK came on to go up top it began to stick more and, despite the fact he’s only played on the wing for about 20 games this season, we discovered Gayle has a long and pacey weapon of a throw on him which eventually led to a goal after we’d spurned further chances.
Gibbs might have equalised late in injury time with a header but Bristol held on for a victory they probably deserved.
Difficult to say how it made me feel. Angry at the board for presiding over this embarrassing mess - apparently too tight to appoint anyone with experience on a lucrative promotion bonus that we’ve still got as good a chance as anyone for if we can get our best 11 out in a sensible system for our remaining games and the play-offs.
Frustrated that we wasted so much of the season pissing about with this obsession for systems and being too clever, blowing the chance to bounce back at the first attempt in what’s actually the poorest Championship set of rivals I can ever recall.
It’s also obvious we’ve got a lot of players who aren’t giving 100% effort, concentration and hunger every game and without doubt too many who think they’re better than they really are. I suppose some of them have built up arguably undeserved reputations for the number of premier league games they’ve played or the figures we signed them for - enough that some other desperate promoted or barely surviving team will come in for them. I’m not sure it’ll actually be the loss we all fear.
Surely we’re going to appoint some experience now?
The scoreline makes it look like a close game but the performance was shocking. At the moment we are a bit of an embarrassment as a football club. The decision making from the board the management and the players is atrocious.
When I looked at the team selection I was really worried but the reality on the pitch was worse than I thought it could be. Townsend, Bartley, diabolical Johansen, Livermore massively overrated. The defending including the goalkeeper was schoolboy standard.
Even if we make the playoffs I can't see us getting promoted and I think in lots of ways that would be a good thing because we are a million miles away from being a premiership football club. Hope I'm wrong but I really think we're going to have to spend a while at this level to find a way forward. It's clear there's not going to be any major investment so we probably need to get rid of some dead wood and rebuild through the youngsters.
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