Town:Joe Anyon, Ryan Woods, Connor Goldson,Tamika Mkandawire (c), Paul Parry, Sam Foley, Jon Taylor, Asa Hall, David McAllister (Mendez-Laing, 83), Joe Jacobson (Grandison, 89), Miles Storey (Atajic, 87)
Subs not used:Chris Weale, Dave Winfield, Dom Smith, Joseph Mills
Bristol City:Frank Fielding, Brendan Maloney, Derrick Williams, Aden Flint (Osborne, 70), Wade Elliott, Sam Baldock (c), Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Joe Bryan (Cunningham, 79), Adam El-Abd, Stephen Pearson (Pack, 66), Simon Gillett
Subs not used:Scott Wagstaff, Tyrone Barnett, Wes Burns, Dave Richards
Assistants:Simon Brown & Darren Stain
Fourth Official:Paul Hobday
Attendance: 6,069 (1,279 from Bristol)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Bristol City became the eighth visiting team to bank all three points at the Greenhous Meadow this afternoon as Town’s wretched home form continues to blight, threatening their place in next season’s Sky Bet League One. Bristol led three times and despite Salop twice levelling through Tamika Mkandawire’s wonder strike and Paul Parry’s header either side of half time, the Ashton Gate side claimed a vital victory to put Town in all sorts of trouble at the wrong end of the table.
There were changes to Town’s line up in all three departments. Joe Jacobson was recalled in place of Joseph Mills, Tom Eaves missed out through injury which gave another opportunity to Miles Storey, and in midfield, Sam Foley debuted with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing dropping down to the bench.
Town attacked the Salop Leisure Stand in the opening 45, getting the game underway at a noisy Greenhous Meadow with the visitors backed by a sizeable following away to our right.
Joe Bryan tested Joe Anyon in the home goal with a probing fourth minute cross which the keeper did well to paw away under pressure, and Bryan looked like the early outlet ball for City - with Ryan Woods doing well to protect Anyon moments later with the left winger again looking to get on the end of something.
As Bristol continued to press it took a timely challenge from Asa Hall to thwart Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who looked set to pull the trigger until the midfielder’s brilliant intervention. But Emmanuel-Thomas wasn’t to be denied for long as he scored the game’s opener on 18 minutes to send that travelling support into raptures. Bryan’s header had been hacked clear as he easily outjumped Woods at the far post from Brendan Maloney’s delivery, but as the ball stayed alive, Emmanuel-Thomas lined himself up for a pot shot from 25 yards and almost removed the netting with a superb angled drive past Anyon at his near post. The sheer power and direction meant the ball whistled past the Town stopper in a flash and it looked a goal from the moment he hit it. On the balance of play it was hard to begrudge the West Country side their lead.
Derrick Williams headed over from Wade Elliott’s cross as Salop continued to offer plenty in terms of workrate but very little in terms of creativity, and it was still City who looked the most likely to add to the scoring.
But then on 42 minutes – right out of the blue – came an unlikely equaliser, and from an equally unlikely source. Skipper Mkandawire saw nothing in front of him so decided to take a shot on himself. From all of 35 yards he found the bottom corner of Frank Fielding’s net for his first in Town colours, and looked as amazed as the rest of us with the ball nestling inside the goal.
Half Time: Town 1 Bristol City 1
Jon Taylor sent Fielding flying across his goal within 30 seconds of the restart but the shot was always rising and comfortably cleared the crossbar.
But it was City who went ahead again after an aberration from Jacobson. What should have been a routine ball to deal with down the channel was miskicked and put Sam Baldock in acres of space behind. His simple ball across the face of goal was a defenders nightmare and Mkandawire diverted it beyond Anyon in the 54th minute. He held his head in his hands but equally, if not more culpable, was Town’s usually reliable left-back whose stance on the far side was identical to that of his crestfallen skipper’s.
But the team’s response was terrific and within five minutes they were back on terms when Parry was on hand to plant his header beyond Fielding from Dave McAllister’s cross.
Mkandawire then saw a yellow card as his action-packed afternoon continued to peak and trough, but the foul committed just outside the box carried no further punishment.
But once again it was City who were next to profit three minutes past the hour. Jacobson did brilliantly to clear from underneath his bar from a terrific ball in from the left and Emmanuel-Thomas sent the resulting flag-kick towards the back post. Bryan climbed highest to head goalwards and although the ball was hacked clear, the referee’s assistant immediately signalled that the ball had crossed the line and the Robins had the lead for a third time.
It had been a really entertaining contest with Town more than playing their part – particularly since the interval – and Storey was just too high with an ambitious drive as the game entered the last 20 minutes and the home side up against it.
City had used all three substitutes by the 79th minute but Mike Jackson had yet to turn his hand. Foley headed into the side netting as Shrews looked for some salvation but it looked like an eighth league home defeat was on the cards.
Mendez-Laing did finally get a run-out replacing McAllister with seven minutes left to play and Storey came off for Bahrudin Atajic, with Jacobson also subbed for Jermaine Grandison as last and somewhat desperate rolls of the dice came inside the last few minutes.
Connor Goldson headed over deep into added time but the despair on home soil continues.
Full Time: Town 2 Bristol City 3