Bristol City 1-0 Middlesbrough: Late strike seals deserved City win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 16/01/16 7:10pm
Bristol City's first game since the sacking of Steve Cotterill brought a thrilling 1-0 home victory over Sky Bet Championship leaders Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
It was no more than the hosts deserved when Aden Flint got his head to Bobby Reid's injury-time corner and directed the ball inside the far post, with Wes Burns on hand to nod in with the faintest touch to take the plaudits.
City's first game under the caretaker management duo of John Pemberton and Wade Elliott saw them set up with a lone striker in Jonathan Kodjia, supported by Burns and Reid in midfield.
They created the first chance on 15 minutes when Joe Bryan's curling cross from the left was met by Burns, but he could only shoot tamely at Dimi Konstantopoulos.
Soon Middlesbrough fashioned a similar opportunity, only for Kike to fail to make proper contact with Daniel Ayala's cross just six yards out.
A mistake by Derrick Williams let in Boro's Cristhian Stuani but his low shot was saved by Richard O'Donnell, on loan from Wigan.
At the other end, Burns got behind the visitors' back line and saw his angled drive tipped over by Konstantopoulos.
A Reid chip was glanced wide by Burns as City more than held their own in the opening half, which ended with warm applause from the home fans.
The second period began with the hosts still on the front foot and Luke Ayling's well-struck effort from 25 yards cleared the crossbar.
A spell of Boro pressure brought no reward and they were almost caught on the break when Kodjia burst forward only to fire wildly over.
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka made a change on 62 minutes, sending on David Nugent for Kike but still City looked the more threatening and another exciting run by Kodjia ended with a shot from the edge of the box straight at Konstantopoulos.
Albert Adomah, playing against his old club, stung the hands of City 'keeper O'Donnell from 25 yards before the home side made their first change, replacing left-back Williams with Scott Wagstaff.
Korey Smith shot over from distance for City, who continued to give Boro's defence all the trouble they could handle and Konstantopoulos was in action again on 75 minutes, tipping over Ayling's header from a Reid corner.
Adomah had a chance to net on 81 minutes when O'Donnell left his line without getting the ball, but the former City player's lob was too high.
Wagstaff shot wide for City as both teams went for the three points in the closing stages. Reid then dribbled his way past two defenders only to delay his shot and be robbed.
With Boro hanging on, a Bryan free-kick caused havoc as Konstantopoulos could only punch it up in the air and Flint's header came back off the crossbar.
It was a temporary reprieve, though, as Burns had the final say to leave Boro only two points ahead of second-placed Hull.
Bristol City caretaker managers John Pemberton and Wade Elliott said:
"The feeling in the dressing room was one of relief. It has been a very difficult week because we lost a good man and a good manager.
"The response from the players was unbelievable and we fully deserved to win. With all due respect to Middlesbrough, we were the better team."
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka said:
"We didn't deserve to win because we didn't play in our usual way and our key players did not perform as they can. People were expecting an easy win for us, but football is not like that and the Championship is not like that.
"It was a poor performance. Sometimes there is more pressure for the players in facing a struggling side than in big games and we didn't deal with it today."