Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Championship clash between Bristol City
and Aston Villa
at Ashton Gate. The Villans have managed to get their campaign back on track in the last week thanks to back-to-back wins in league and cup, but anything less than victory tonight and the pressure will once again start to build on boss Steve Bruce
The hosts have stuttered somewhat since picking up maximum points against Barnsley here on the opening day, meanwhile, with two draws and a defeat in their last three Championship outings, though like Villa they progressed in the EFL Cup in midweek with an impressive victory away to Watford. Manager Lee Johnson
claimed after that one that changes could be expected tonight, so let us check out the confirmed team news...
BRISTOL CITY TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Fielding, Pisano, Baker, Wright, Bryan, Brownhill, K.Smith, Pack, Paterson, Reid, Diedhiou
SUBS: Lucic, Magnusson, Flint, O'Dowda, Eliasson, O'Neil, Woodrow
Johnson, contrary to the claim made in midweek, reverts back to the same XI that was held that a goalless draw by Millwall here eight days ago. Just the one alteration in the entire squad, in fact, with Jens Hegeler being replaced on the bench by Aden Flint, the man who has been strongly linked with the Ashton Gate exit pretty much all summer long. Johnson has made just one change to his favoured XI since the opening day.
Matty Taylor was in contention to feature tonight after shaking off a hamstring complaint to feature from the bench against Watford, but he misses out on selection. Cauley Woodrow, who recently joined on loan from Fulham, is also made to wait for his first start of the season after making a 20-minute cameo in the draw with Millwall. City go with a 4-4-2 formation, with the in-form Bobby Reid partnering Famara Diedhiou up top.
ASTON VILLA TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Taylor, Chester, Samba, Terry, Whelan, Hourihane, Onomah, Green, Davis
SUBS: Steer, Lansbury, Hogan, Agbonlahor, Bree, Bjarnason, Adomah
Visiting boss Bruce has made one change to his starting lineup following last week's 4-2 win over Norwich City. It is an interesting switch, as Chris Samba comes in for Alan Hutton at the back, presumably meaning that the Villans will go with three along the back and two wing-backs further up the field. That will suit Neil Taylor, Ahmed Elmohamady and James Chester perfectly, but how will Samba and John Terry cope?
, on loan for the season from Tottenham Hotspur, picked up a head injury last week but is deemed fit enough to start this evening. Keinon Davies has impressed since being given his chance and also features after shaking off a minor injury problem, though experienced midfielder Mile Jedinak is absent through illness. Conor Hourihane is one to keep an eye on, having bagged four goals in his last two games.
Bristol City stick with the same XI that was held to a goalless draw by Millwall here eight days ago, despite boss Lee Johnstone threatening to make changes after the midweek cup win at Watford. In terms of the visitors, Steve Bruce has brought in Chris Samba for Alan Hutton and therefore gone with three central defenders. An interesting choice and one that could well get the best out of Aston Villa's star players.
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PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Bristol City have alternated between victory and defeat in their past six league meetings with Aston Villa which, should it continue at its current rate, will see them pick up victory this evening. The Villans, victorious in the most recent encounter in February, have won three of their last four against the Robins in all competitions.
Since beating Barnsley 3-1 here on the opening day, when racing three goals to the good inside 31 minutes, Bristol have struggled to truly push on. They have failed to win their last three Championship matches, losing away to Birmingham City and then playing out draws with Brentford and Millwall. The outcome of this match could well determine the mood around these parts - four without a win or, alternatively, just one defeat in five.
The Robins did battle to a 3-2 win over Watford in that aforementioned EFL Cup tie in midweek, though, getting the job done against their weakened opponents despite making nine changes of their own. That has set up a trip to Stoke City in round three for Bristol, who also put five past Plymouth Argyle in the first round. The cup is certainly proving to be their friend, but can they take that form into the league to pick up a second win?
Villa have started their campaign in a reverse manner, meanwhile, drawing with Hull City in their opener before tasting successive away defeats to Cardiff City and Reading in the space of a few days. Incredibly, that saw the pressure build on Bruce, who was forced to defend himself from social-media trolls, though wins over Norwich and Wigan Athletic in the league and cup respectively have certainly given him a helping hand.
DID YOU KNOW? Aston Villa have lost 10 of their last 13 away league matches, including each of the last four, while Bristol City have won five of their last seven matches on home soil and scored 15 goals in the process. The Robins also boast an impressive record when it comes to Friday night games under the Ashton Gate lights, having won each of the last five to be played here - two of those coming last season.
With kickoff in the West Country now just a couple of minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.
Lee Johnson: "It's a great game, with the history of Villa. It's going to be a tough game. They are big-spenders. I love these games, Friday night under the lights. The atmosphere will be electric. That's what these players need to play football for."
Steve Bruce: "The biggest thing is we have got to stop being a roller coaster. I've got to get it on a plain of equilibrium, if I can. I didn't think we were that bad at Reading but then all of a sudden the storm has become a hurricane. It was ridiculous. Then we've had a couple of decent results, and here's the euphoria again."
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KICKOFF! Aston Villa, sporting their black away strip this evening, get us under way at Ashton Gate. A change of formation and a youthful attack - will it have the desired effect against a Bristol City side sitting five places better off in the table?
Early battle for Chris Samba up against Josh Brownhill. The experienced centre-back manager to get his body in the way of the ball to shield it and, following a slight nudge in the back, earns his side a free kick inside his own area.
SAVE! The first sight of goal of the evening comes via a nice bit of play from Andre Green, who created a bit of space in the box to get a stinging shot away on target. Frank Fielding was happy to slap the ball to relative safety.
Davies and Green showing early on just why they are being favoured over the likes of Agbonlahor and Hogan, both of whom are on the bench this evening. Bristol City seeing more of the ball in the past few moments, earning a corner which is collected by Johnstone.
Lively enough start to the match at Ashton Gate. Just the one attempt at either end so far - Andre Green working some space in the Villa box to test Fielding with a well-struck shot. Not a great deal between the sides in the first nine minutes.
Great block from former Blackburn Rovers man Samba to prevent Paterson getting his cross into the danger area. Not only did he stop the cross, he also got a fortunate deflection back off the Bristol winger to earn his side a goal kick.
Smith very nearly slotted the ball through for Reid with a smart first-time pass, which was cut out on the edge of the box. Another cross comes in from the right, which Samba is once again on the end of to this time concede a corner.
Diedhiou went for an audacious overhead kick from the corner, failing to make the desired contact. Villa have struggled to put any real attacking moves together over the past five or six minutes, with City the side now on top.
The hosts' first attempt of the evening comes via the boot of Jamie Paterson
after the wideman was given the chance to bring the ball forward. From all of 25 yards his shot was easily kept out down the middle by Johnstone.
Bryan with a dangerous cross into the six-yard box, where wing-back Taylor was well positioned to clear ahead of Diedhiou. Paterson then with a glided ball from deep, which skipped right through for Johnstone to collect.
SHOT! The Robins starting to dominate play now, as Brownhill's shot hits Terry's arm and ends nicely for Johnstone to sweep up. Looked like a handball infringement to me, just outside the box, but Reid's shout for a penalty was never going to be given as he went down under zero contact.
Villa have gone to four at the back after being pegged back into their own final third. Chester has shifted out wide for the time being - unorthodox, but Bruce clearly feeling the need to try something different to hold the hosts back.
SAVE! Villa still not looking all that comfortable at the back. A cross into the box is not given up on by Diedhiou, who is making a nuisance of himself and gets a shot away that hits Terry and is stopped by Johnstone. The Robins closing in on that opening goal here.
A short break in play for Pisano to receive some treatment to his bloodied face. Villa have barely managed to get their foot on the ball in the opposition half, though that stoppage may act as a chance to swing momentum back their way.
Nearly a third of the match played at Ashton Gate and it is Bristol City who have asked all of the questions. Bruce was forced to tinker with his system midway through the half, moving from a five-man defence to a back four.
Samba clatters into Reid and the home side have a chance to cross the ball into the box from deep. Terry is the man on the end of it, though, as has been the case on a few occasions in the opening 45 minutes of the contest.
Terry does well at the back under a little pressure, keeping hold of the ball and giving his side a chance to finally move forward. Elmohamady does exactly that to win the visitors a corner, which Fielding punches to safety.
A sense that momentum is now swinging Villa's way following Bruce's tactical tinkering. City have done more to open the scoring so far, but Johnstone has not had to do anything out of the ordinary to keep his side level.
Villa have seen 60% of the ball in the past 10 minutes, so further proof that manager Steve Bruce was right to revert to a back four when he did. The visitors send a free kick into the box but Fielding is again easily able to collect.
Onomah is given the chance to bring the ball back inside on his right but, once doing so, he sent his effort closer to Row Z than the back of the net. Real shocker of an attempt, but no doubt that the visitors are now enjoying themselves far more.
SAVE! Villa's best moment of the match so far, as Hourihane slots the ball through for Elmohamady to hit. Fielding raced off his line, though, and was able to produce a strong block with his body to keep the scores level.
Elmohamady's cross from the right is a simple one for Fielding to collect. Half time now fast approaching at Ashton Gate and there does not look like being a way through on goal for either side before the whistle sounds.
Davis maybe could have gone down on the edge of the box but instead stayed on his feet and laid the ball off for Hourihane, whose shot was blocked in front of goal. Villa ending the half much the better side, without managing to find a route through.
HALF TIME: BRISTOL CITY 0-0 ASTON VILLA
The half-time whistle sounds in the West Country, meaning that we are all square at the interval. Aston Villa started the better and ended on top, but for about 30 minutes in-between it was Bristol City who enjoyed the better openings.
Villa started the match on top, coming close to scoring an early goal when Andre Green worked some space in the box to test Frank Fielding with a stinging shot. The home side enjoyed the first half's best chances, though, forcing opposition boss Steve Bruce to revert from a three-man defence to a back four midway through.
Prior to the tactical tinkering, Jamie Paterson had a long-range attempt easily dealt with and Josh Brownhill saw his effort blocked by the arm of John Terry just outside the box. For all Bristol's possession in dangerous areas they could not do a great deal with it, however, and when Villa wrestled back control of the match they should have edged in front.
An in-form Conor Hourihane slipped the ball through for Ahmed Elmohamady to hit first time from a slight angle, but Fielding was quickly off his line to close down the angle and keep his side level. That is it in terms of the first-half chances in this tight contest, though will either manager be tempted to make a change at the break?
BRISTOL CITY SUBS: Lucic, Magnusson, Flint, O'Dowda, Eliasson, O'Neil, Woodrow
ASTON VILLA SUBS: Steer, Lansbury, Hogan, Agbonlahor, Bree, Bjarnason, Adomah
© Getty Images
RESTART! We are back under way at Ashton Gate, where there is news of a half-time change to bring you. James Bree is on in place of Chris Samba for the second half; the centre-back picking up a slight knock in the opening 45 minutes.
Wonder if Bruce would have made that change at the break even if Samba had not picked up a knock to his knee? Chester was playing out of position at full-back, whereas replacement Bree is a lot more comfortable in that position.
SHOT! On-loan midfielder Josh Onomah had a shocker of an attempt in the first half, though this latest effort is a lot better. The angle was against him, though, and in the end he could only pick out Fielding at his front post.
A very evenly-contested match on our hands in the West Country. Good atmosphere being generated, though at the moment there is a risk that the two sides will continue to cancel each other out. Those changes on the hour may prove decisive.
Terry sweeps up well to prevent Reid getting in behind. The ex-Chelsea man has done very well this evening, pretty much getting his head to everything inside the box and winning his personal battle with the Robins' makeshift striker.
Johnson and Bruce will be contemplating a change or two in the next five or 10 minutes, with the match a bit stale at the moment. Would a point suit either side? Certainly not a bad result for the hosts, though the Villans will be targeting all three.
Davis given half a sight of goal, but he could not quite get his boot around the ball and the shot ended wide of the target. Both teams standing firm at the back, as we await that crucial breakthrough goal at Ashton Gate.
The cheekiest of efforts from Hourihane from around 40 yards out, slicing the ball wide of goal when Fielding came off his line. After scoring four goals in two games, including a treble against Norwich eight days ago, why not?
John Terry goes right through Bobby Reid just a yard or so outside the box. Home fans wanted a penalty but the referee made the right call, though Pack - one of three players over the ball - will fancy his chances from this range.
GOAL! BRISTOL CITY 1-0 ASTON VILLA (JAMIE PATERSON)
We have lift-off at Ashton Gate! Pack did indeed take on the free kick but was unable to find a way through the wall. Villa failed to clear their lines, though, and it eventually fell nicely to Paterson to tuck past a stranded Johnstone.
With just over a quarter of the match to play the pressure is now on Villa to step things up. Bruce has delayed making a second change, though at the moment his side are struggling to really create anything when in possession.
GOAL! BRISTOL CITY 1-1 ASTON VILLA (JOSH ONOMAH)
They may have struggled to create any clear-cut chances, but when you have fortune on your side that matters little. Onomah took on the shot from 25 yards out and sent it looping over fielding via a huge deflection off Pack on its way through.
With a quarter of the match left to play this one really could go either way. Villa have momentum after levelling up, four minutes after falling a goal down, but City are seeing a fair bit of the ball at the moment. Good game on our hands!
Neither manager has made a change in this second half; Bree for Samba at the break the only change of personnel at this point. That will surely change soon, and it could determine which side - if any - leaves here with all three points.
BLOCK! Good chance for Conor Hourihane to continue his fine goalscoring run for the Villans. Ahmed Elmohamady cut the ball back for his teammate, but his strike was not clean and it hit a Bristol City player on its way through.
Onomah so nearly slotted the ball through for Davis, but it had a little too much on it. Really surprised that Bruce has not changed things up top, with Agbonlahor and a not-quite-fully-fit Hogan in reserve. Woodrow being readied for the hosts...
BRISTOL CITY SUB! Woodrow is on in place of Diedhiou, providing a fresh pair of legs alongside Reid. Both teams have looked a little stale in attack over the past 10 minutes so that change will be welcomed by the home supporters.
SAVE! Villa again unable to clear their lines following a cross into the box. It fell to Joe Brian, who did well to get his head to the ball around 15 yards from goal to ask a question of Sam Johnstone. Twelve minutes to go here!
OFF THE POST!
So, so close to a second Bristol City goal. Full-back Eros Pisano
's cross was miscued and nearly looped over Johnstone, but the keeper looked to get the faintest of touches to the ball to help it on to the post.
PENALTY APPEAL! Not for the first time today, the ball hits Terry's arm inside the box. Strong shouts for a penalty from the home supporters and, having seen a replay, I have to say they had a point. Hogan is now on for Davis up top.
Villa made their third and final change a few moments ago, bringing on Bjarnason from Green. Bristol City being pushed back more and more into their own final third over the past couple of minutes, though Johnson has yet to respond with a change.
BRISTOL CITY SUBS! Lee Johnson makes a double substitution, introducing O'Dowda and Eliasson for Pack and Paterson. Prior to that, Onomah was shown a yellow card for halting the run of Paterson when he attempted to break clear.
YELLOW CARD! Josh Brownhill sticks out a leg to stop the run of Hogan, rightly earning the game's second caution as a result. Terry is given permission to go forward to attack the deep free kick, but it never reached him inside the box.
Four minutes have been added on at the end of this fairly lively contest. Villa the side pressing for a winner at the moment, but Bristol City came closest to bagging the game's third goal through Eros Pisano's miscued cross 10 minutes ago.
Still time for a winner in the West Country, with both teams looking to grab a second. A third-successive draw beckons for the home side, while Villa will have just five points from the first 15 on offer as things stand.
FULL TIME: BRISTOL CITY 1-1 ASTON VILLA
The spoils are shared at Ashton Gate, then, as Bristol City and Aston Villa play out a 1-1 draw. It was an absorbing contest on the whole; one which neither side truly did enough to win in the end. Jamie Paterson's strike was cancelled out by a deflected Josh Onomah attempt, with the hosts coming closest to winning the match in the remainder.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events at Ashton Gate. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, while a recap of all the night's other results - including Hull City's meeting with Bolton Wanderers - can be viewed here
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