Bristol City’s impecable home record went out the window yesterday as Scunthorpe escaped Ashton Gate with a point.
Following home wins over Palace, QPR and Middlesbrough in previous games at Ashton Gate this season, City were expected to turn over the newly promoted visitors with relative ease, depsite the squad being hampered by illness and injury and the impressive away form of the Iron.
It has to be said though, Johnson went for a bizarre team selection and shape with top scorer Nicky Maynard the only change from the side that fired a blank at Swansea in midweek.
Marvin Elliott was asked to play wide left and Evander Sno on the right side of midfield, leaving the home side too narrow and short of natural width.
Despite that it was City who started the brighter in the gorgeous Indian-summer style sunshine, working Joe Murphy with a low shot from the edge of the box.
City thought we had lead not long after. The ball found Evander Sno lurking just inside the area, who unleashed a goalbound effort only for Alvaro Saborio get the final touch from an offside position.
Scunny replied with a similar effort of there own minutes later, Jon Forte poking in a Sam Togwell cross only for it to be dubiously chalked off by the linesman, probably under the influence of those in the Dolman Stand behind him!
Basso was called into action for the first time on 15, saving Martyn Woolford’s header with a trademark save for camera’s following good word by full-back Marcus Williams.
The early chances faded a bit after that, with the game being played in pretty hot and tiring conditions.
Sno blazed an effort over from distance on 37 minutes whilst Paul Hayes fizzed a low shot into Atyeo Stand as the half-time whistle approached.
The Iron were presented with the best chance of the game immediately after the break, Josh Wright wriggling clear of the home defence before shooting straight at Basso.
Maynard then looked poised to add to his six goals so far this season when he raced onto a Saborio flick-on only to be denied by the gangly legs of beast-like centre back, and former City transfer target, Rob Jones.
But we didn’t have to wait long until the game’s first goal arrived on 50.
There was pinball defending in the box amongst the Scunny defence before the ball fell kindly to Saborio six yards out.
The Costa Rican brought a smart save out of Murphy before lashing the rebound into the roof of the net for his first goal in English football.
Maynard was again a cats whisker away from finding the net on 58 minutes as he just missed Saborio’s clever flick from a low Jamie McAllister free-kick.
City were handed another chance to ram home our advantage when the visitors had to see out the last 10 minutes with ten men, with Gary Hooper hobbling off after Scunny had used their three subs.
Sno displayed good skill to squirm away and cut in from the left and onto his preferred right peg before stinging Murphy’s gloves with a rasping long range strike and Marvin Elliott could have been a hero but fluffed his lines from a perfect Maynard pass with five minutes left.
But Grant McCann was to have the last laugh in stoppage time and Lee Johnson fart-arsed around in the box allowing the ex-Cheltenham man to sweep in a deflected equaliser and end our 100% record at the Gate.
CITY (4-4-2): Basso, Orr, McCombe, Fontaine, McAllister, Sno, Hartley (Skuse 84), Johnson, Elliott, Saborio (Sproule 89), Maynard.
SCUNTHORPE (4-4-2): Murphy, Spence, Mirfin, Jones, Williams, O’Connor (Sparrow 64), Wright, Togwell, Woolford (McCann 67), Forte (Hooper 61), Hayes.
Referee: Danny McDermid (London)
Adriano Basso 6
Made a few routine saves that he made look good for his gullible fans with his saves for the camera. Otherwise, generally sound.
Bradley Orr 6
Solid at the back. Did what he had to do in more customary role at right-back.
Jamie McAllister 5
Tried to give us some width down the left early on but made to sloppy errors as the game went on, maybe due to the hot conditions.
Liam Fontaine 7
Another classy, efficient performance from Fonts. He had a neat and tidy game without setting the world on fire but seems to be improving with every game at the moment.
Jamie McCombe 6
Again, slightly surprised at his inclusion with the lack of a physical striker in the opposition but did ok.
Evander Sno 8
Played out of position on both wings whilst he regains his fitness but looks a class act. Rarely gave the ball away and had the skill in his locker to get out of tight situations. Always wanted the simple ball.
Paul Hartley 7
Another good shift from the bearded Jock but clearly tired as the game wore on. Displayed a good range of passing.
Lee Johnson 5
Simply not good enough for this level. His howler in the box during the dying stages led to the stoppage time goal.
Marvin Eilliott 6
Not Marv’s best game as he and Sno were forced to man the wings. Struggled when he went onto the left but still worked hard for the cause. Should’ve won it with 5 minutes left.
Nicky Maynard 7
Always a threat going forwards and was unlucky not to open the scoring early in the second half. Tireless performance from the striker.
Alvaro Saborio 7
Finding his feet at this level but led the line well, won his share of headers and held the ball up to good effect. Glad to see him bag his first goal in City colours.
Cole Skuse 5
Should have started ahead of Johnson is the manager was intent on using this system. Didn’t have enough time to make an impact.
Ivan Sproule 5
Thought he could’ve been brought on earlier as we looked to stretch the game on the wings but, like Skuse, had little time to get into the game.
GARY JOHNSON – 5/10
Despite the injury crisis at the club, the selection and shape of the midfield was both unbalanced and narrow. This would be fine away from home or against a better passing side than Scunthorpe but we need more width at home.
The selection of his son was poor, given Cole Skuse’s impressive form so far this season and it ultimately cost us the points.
NIGEL ADKINS – 7/10
Had his side well ogranised, hard to break down and set up to hit us on the break. Clearly has moulded a hard-working team, which was on show when they went down to 10-men. Made his subs nice and early, showing positive intent to win the game.
Plenty Of Huff And Puff But Not Much Else
City will definitely look back on this performance as two points dropped, despite being disjointed and narrow in midfield.
We passed the ball well and times without really penetrating the robust Iron backline but conceded a very soft goal.
We need to learn to be more ruthless, not just in front of goal but at the back too.
The ball should’ve been hoofed clear in the dying the seconds but ultimately City need to get away from this ‘score one and mother the goal’ attitude at home if we want to win more games at the Gate.
Basso Shouldn’t Be Praised
Wantaway keeper Adriano Basso’s name was being sung yesterday despite him still wanting out.
I had to bite my lip at times yesterday as some City fans around me in the East End sang his name and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to feel like this.
They need to remember, the 34-year old turned his nose up at a great deal to be one of the top earners at the club, which even his agent advised him to sign!
He stitched us up after months of stalling ultimately saw the patience of Chris Weale, his more-than-able understudy, finally run out and join Leicester.
No player’s bigger than the City. We should support the club, not the individual – regardless of what’s gone on behind the scenes.