MATCH REPORT: Bristol City 4 Stevenage 1

Graham Westley. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Graham Westley. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Boro’s winless run in League 1 extends to six matches as they concede four goals again, this time at Ashton Gate

Stevenage shipped four goals for the second successive League 1 game as their dismal Christmas continued at Ashton Gate.

Like the 4-0 drubbing at Colchester United on Boxing Day, Boro were hit by a two-goal burst in the opening 15 minutes as they started sluggishly and the home side took full advantage.

Graham Westley’s men then conceded two more in three second-half minutes before grabbing a late consolation through Francois Zoko as the club’s winless league run extended to six matches.

After the match Westley spoke about how many shots his side had had in the game – 20, it turned out, to the hosts’ 10 – but although Elliott Parish was inspired form in the home goal, for a team such as Boro, who are noted for their defensive qualities, there will be real concern at the way in which the visitors conceded their four goals.

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Three of City’s goals came from moves down Boro’s left, and although Westley said afterwards that he’ll be looking towards youth players and cheap loan deals during the January transfer window, the left-back position is one that needs looking at.

Stevenage made five changes to the side that were beaten on Boxing Day, and among those coming in were Sam Wedgbury into central midfield and Roarie Deacon at left-back with David Gray at right-back.

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There was no place in the squad for either Filipe Morais of James Dunne.

Boro may have rung the changes but they fell behind early through a Greg Cunningham header.

Deacon, tucked inside, allowed Scott Wagstaff too much time on the ball on the right with seven minutes gone and the wide man had plenty of time to pick out his team-mate who rose highest at the far post to nod past Chris Day.

City scored their second of the match with barely 12 minutes on the clock. This time a long ball was cleared by Boro only as far as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, and the City forward ran past Jon Ashton before cutting back for Sam Baldock to tap in under pressure.

It was a woeful start for Stevenage, but the visitors almost pulled a goal back when Luke Freeman forced a good save out of Parish before the same player set up Jordan Burrow whose shot was blocked.

Baldock could have added a third for his side just before the half-hour mark, but pulling to the far post he volleyed Cunningham’s long pass over from close range.

Ashton then went close for Stevenage with 10 minutes to go until the break, his header forcing a superb save to his left from Parish as the City goalkeeper clawed the ball away to safety.

Boro made a change eight minutes into the second half with Jimmy Smith making way for Lucas Akins.

Deacon had Boro’s first chance of the half, the full-back seeing his low drive turned around the post by Parish.

Zoko then controlled a Burrow cross once before flicking it over a defender, controlling it again and shooting just wide as Boro’s decent start to the half continued.

Reid pulled an effort wide for the home side, before Freeman, lacking support, decided to go into the City box himself and fired a low shot onto the foot of Parish’s post.

It was a close shave for the home side, but within a minute they had scored their third of the afternoon.

Baldock breezed past Deacon on the right before setting up Emmanuel-Thomas, whose late run behind Gray allowed him to tap home.

Emmanuel-Thomas was once again on target for goal number four, this time moving the ball inside and past Ashton 25 yards from goal before curling a neat effort inside Day’s right hand post.

Boro hit back when Freeman made a run to the line before pulling back for Zoko to smack into the top corner, and there was time for both sides to go close again but Emmanuel-Thomas’s flick at a free-kick was saved by Day while Burrow touched a pass into the box on to the post for Boro.

City’s chances came too easily, though, and their four goals have left Stevenage four points from safety at the halfway stage of the season with Gillingham up next on New Year’s Day.

Bristol City (4-4-2): Parish 8; Osborne 6, Cunningham 7, Williams 6, Flint 6; Wagstaff 7 (Moloney 74), Reid 6, Elliott 7, Gillett 7 (Carey 87), Baldock 8 (Burns 85), Emmanuel-Thomas 9. Subs: Fielding, Bryan, Wynter, Taylor.

Stevenage (4-3-3): Day 5; Gray 6, Deacon 4, Ashton 4, Jones 5; Wedgbury 5 (Heslop 82), Tansey 6 (Doughty 70, 5), Smith 6 (Akins 54, 5); Zoko 7, Burrow 6, Freeman 8. Subs: Arnold, Chorley, Haber, Andrade.

Att: 12,038 (256 away)

Ref: Jeremy Simpson

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