REPORT: TOWN 2-1 BRISTOL CITYAnother goal from top scorer Elias Kachunga and a first strike in seven from striker Nahki Wells sealed a deserved 2-1 win over Bristol City at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Town put in another great performance on the afternoon and finally got the result that the players’ endeavours deserved, with a goal in each half bookending a Bristol City equaliser in the first half.
Bristol City pressed Town very high in the opening stages, but the Terriers got on top largely thanks to attacks down the right side. Former Peterborough man Lee Tomlin, playing as a left winger, wasn’t tracking Tommy Smith’s overlapping runs down the flank and that gave Wagner’s men an effective outlet.
Nahki Wells had the first effort of the game in the fourth minute, playing a neat one-two with Kachunga just inside the opposition half to break into space down the middle. Spotting goalkeeper Frank Fielding slightly off his line, the Bermudian tried an ambitious lob, but sent the ball well wide of target.
The next meaningful Town attack brought the game’s first goal in the 10th minute. An initial attack broke down, but some great reaction pressure from the central midfield duo of Mooy and Hogg immediately won the ball back around 35 yards out.
That allowed Kachunga to find another Smith run down the right, with Smith drilling a pull-back to the penalty spot to find Elias’ dart into the danger zone. He stooped to head his seventh goal of the season, with the assist being Smith’s fifth.
Town continued to attack through Smith, with the right back chesting a lofted pass past Tomlin with ease on the quarter hour to break clear. Another pinpoint pull-back found Wells in the area but after his initial shot was blocked by a defender, he placed his left-footed follow-up too close to Fielding.
Bristol’s giant centre back Aden Flint scored from a set piece at the John Smith’s Stadium on his last visit and he had a big chance to pull his side level, thumping a header from a Tomlin corner inches wide of the near post as everyone watched on.
Town continued to attack, with van La Parra testing right back Matthews with his pace on a few occasions. One run drew a poor challenge from visiting winger Luke Freeman, who was booked.
Bristol’s equaliser followed just after the half hour mark, with a wide free kick on the Town left awarded to City after Schindler brought down Tomlin. The initial ball into the penalty area was kept alive by Flint and played back towards the far post, where Wilbraham – amid strong offside claims – beat Ward to the ball and nudged it to strike partner Abraham, who slammed home from a few yards.
By this point, Bristol City Head Coach Lee Tomlin had changed his shape to move Tomlin off the left and try to stop Smith’s marauding runs forward. Town continued to press, with van La Parra forcing Fielding into a good save with a deflected 20-yard shot; the ‘keeper getting a good hand to the ball low to his right.
Town fans were incensed with the officials as the half ended. Flint tried to shepherd a through-pass from Palmer dead and clumsily knocked over Wells in the process, with the referee waving the appeals away.
Bristol’s bench was similarly unimpressed moments later when Abraham beat Hefele to a ball to break clear, only to be penalised for a high boot.
There was another big decision for the referee as the second half got under way, with goalkeeper Fielding clearly handling the ball outside his area with Wells in close attendance. After consulting with his assistant, the ref flourished a yellow card – deciding Fielding hadn’t denied a clear goal.
Fielding stayed on the pitch – and had a big role in Town’s eventual winner. Nahki Wells charged down a bobbling back-pass from a defender and the goalkeeper’s touch onto his left foot was loose, which allowed the striker to nick the ball off his toe and play it into an empty net. David Wagner said in the week that hard work brings luck and Nahki got his just rewards for his first goal in seven games.
Wagner’s men continued to make the running, but had to be aware of counter-attacks from the visitors. Tomlin showed off his skill in the 64th minute to get the wrong side of Hogg before clipping the ball into Abraham’s path, but Hefele did well to get alongside the Chelsea loanee and put off his shot.
Town responded, with Man of the Match Mooy releasing Kachunga down the right before the Ingolstadt loanee was tripped driving infield, right on the edge of the box. Mooy stepped up and hit a fierce shot goalward that clipped the defensive wall before flashing merely a yard wide.
Bristol City left back Scott Golbourne should have done better with a shot from 20 yards after a long throw fell to him, but it was the Terriers making all the running at this stage. Mooy and van La Parra worked a corner short to give the Australian the opportunity to power a shot goalward from the edge of the box, with Fielding executing a great save to his left as the ball flew through the crowded box.
Town did a great job of seeing out the final few minutes, as well as the six eventual minutes of added time, with the likes of Kachunga, Phil Billing and late sub Jack Payne keeping the ball in the corner.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith (c); Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Mooy; Rajiv van La Parra (Martin Cranie, 83’), Kasey Palmer (Philip Billing, 69’), Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells (Jack Payne, 91')
Joel Coleman, Harry Bunn, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Jon Gorenc Stanković
Christopher Schindler (32’); Elias Kachunga (85’)