Full Time After Extra Time This is a live match. Extra Time Half Time

Bristol City vs Fulham. Sky Bet Championship.

Ashton GateAttendance23,796.

Bristol City 1

  • N Wells (70th minute)

Fulham 1

  • T Cairney (84th minute)

Bristol City 1-1 Fulham: Tom Cairney strikes late on to secure a point for the visitors

Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at Ashton Gate

Oliver Young-Myles

Saturday 7 March 2020 19:30, UK

preview image 2:08
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Bristol City and Fulham

Tom Cairney scored a late trademark goal from distance to ensure Fulham rescued a point against fellow promotion-chasers Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

Nahki Wells put Bristol City in front after 71 minutes with an opportunistic header after the ball had pinballed around the Fulham penalty area from a Callum O'Dowda corner.

Fulham responded well to going behind and drew level with six minutes remaining when Cairney bent an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner from outside the box.

The result does not particularly suit either side as Fulham are seven points adrift of leaders Leeds, while Bristol City sit just outside the play-off places.

Captain Cairney comes to Fulham's rescue

There was a party atmosphere at Ashton Gate before kick-off as City had designated this match as their 125th year anniversary game with the players wearing a special commemorative kit and a bumper crowd making the most of reduced match ticket prices.

Considering the occasion, former City player Bobby Decordova-Reid was always likely to be in the thick of the action and he had the two clearest chances of the opening 45 minutes, first when flashing a header wide of the far post on the half-hour mark and then by drawing a flying stop from Niki Maenpaa in stoppage time.

Decordova-Reid, who received a mixed reception on his first return to Ashton Gate since leaving City in 2018, then had the first meaningful opportunity of the second half, forcing Maenpaa into another good stop down to his left shortly after the restart.

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Although Fulham controlled much of the play with 57 per cent possession and looked the more threatening side, it was the hosts who went in front through Wells. Filip Benkovic, brought on as a first-half substitute for the injured Nathan Baker, headed the ball across goal for Wells to nod home clinically inside the six-yard-box.

In response to going behind, Scott Parker brought on Anthony Knockaert and switched his formation from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 for the final stages. His tactical tinkering paid off immediately as Cairney struck a sweet equaliser after the ball had dropped into his path following a tackle on Harry Arter.

From that point on, Fulham looked the most likely to win it with Tomas Kalas making a goal-saving challenge to deny Decordova-Reid again and Maenpaa fortunate to escape conceding a penalty deep into stoppage time for a challenge on Cairney.

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What the managers said...

Bristol City's Lee Johnson: "We desperately wanted to mark our 125th anniversary match with a win, but I think the reaction of our fans at the end said it all.

"I believe their applause was partly for the way Fulham played and partly for the way we combated a very good side.

"We are still a work in progress, but somehow we have to find a way of getting sufficient results over our remaining games to be in the promotion shake-up."

Fulham's Scott Parker: "Tom Cairney took his goal superbly and was outstanding throughout the game. I thought he was head and shoulder above every other player.

"We all know his quality on the ball, but in the last three games he has showed much more than that and today it was a complete performance."

Man of the match - Tomas Kalas

Tomas Kalas impressed against his former club
Image: Tomas Kalas impressed against his former club

Fulham might well feel that they should have left Ashton Gate with all three points and they likely would have done had Tomas Kalas not made a vital intervention to prevent Bobby Decordova-Reid from scoring in closing stages.

Kalas spent two productive seasons on loan at Craven Cottage including during the club's promotion-winning campaign in 2017-18 and impressed against his former employers throughout.

The defender ranked top in Bristol City's side for successful passes (38) and blocks (two) while he also completed five clearances.

What's next?

Fulham host fellow promotion-chasers Brentford at Craven Cottage in their next game on Friday night, live on Sky Sports Football, while Bristol City visit Blackburn on Saturday.

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