City rediscovered our form in front of goal to record a crucial win over Ian Holloway’s Blackpool at Ashton Gate.
Lewin Nyatanga and skipper Louis Carey were drafted in at the back from the team defeated at Derby last weekend, taking the places of the banned McCombe and injured Fontaine.
There was also a slot in midfield, albeit on the left, for Cole Skuse who replaced Paul Hartley, who is suffering with shingles and is reportedly out for a month.
‘Skeletor’ was victorious on his last visit to BS3, winning 2-0 with his Leicester side two years ago, and was keen to put one over on his hated team again but it was City who came out the traps quicker.
Skuse came round the back to meet a deep cross from Bradley Orr with a volley that stretched Paul Rachubka whilst Marvin Elliott narrowly mis-timed his jump to head tamely at the keeper on 14.
Even though it was early on, City were spraying it around nicely with Sno at the heart of it, demonstrating a cohesion that was severly lacking of late.
Saborio, sporting a new shaven head look that fooled most City fans until midway inside the first-half, blazed a glorious chance over the East End when well placed to receive Maynard’s cut back eight yards out.
The chances continued to fall our way and the best one of the half fell to the Saborio, and then Maynard on 20 minutes.
Racing onto another Sno through ball, Saborio sprang the offside trap and had a clear sight of goal, with only the keeper to beat from the edge of the box.
Instead of putting his boot through it and registering a shot on goal, he put the ball across for Maynard who could only find the side netting after stretching to meet it for a tap in.
It was a case of same old City, who had yet to bag a single goal in the first-half of any league or cup game this season but by Christ, was that run ended in some style on 28.
Blackpool’s Charlie Adam could only head Skuse’s inswinging cross from the left up in the air. With his back towards goal, Nicky Maynard produced another moment of magic, executing a sublime bicycle kick into the bottom corner from 12 yards for his seventh of the season.
The goal saw the East End send another barrage of abuse in the rat-faced Holloway’s direction, nothing more than the scumbag deserves, but the strike also seemed to wake his side up.
Adam’s 25-yard free-kick flashed wide of the post whilst Jason Euell’s pinpoint cross from the right found an unmarked Ben Burgess at the back post only for him force Basso to tip wide.
David Vaughan’s sent a fierce drive just wide of goal while Euell saw an effort deflected behind. City just had to weather the storm and go into the break with a lead their first-half play deserved.
Saborio made way for Danny Haynes’ first appearance in a month six minutes after the interval, and it wasn’t long before he was in the action.
Sno found Maynard, who back-heeled straight into the path of the onrushing Haynes to arrow a fierce left-footed drive past Rachubka and into the bottom corner for his first goal since his summer move from Ipswich.
City were forging ahead in search of that elusive third goal, having failed to score more than two goals since the 4-2 win at Watford on Boxing Day last year and it nearly came moments later.
Elliott forced Rachubka into a magnificent save to keep out his curling, long range effort which looked destined for the top corner.
Holloway was rightly getting abused and he clearly seemed rattled by the atmosphere and tempo from the City as he made a treble sub on 61.
By now, Haynes was running riot up front and after skinning Stephen Crainey down the right, he fizzed a low cross-shot across goal but nobody could keep up with him and tap it in!
Evander Sno looked set to join Haynes in opening his account in red but couldn’t sort his feet out in time to fire home another incisive Haynes centre.
The Tangerine’s saw Euell and sub Brett Ormerod both work Basso in the closing stages, but the result was in the bag to restore some much needed confidence ahead of Saturday’s big trip to Newcastle.
CITY (4-4-2): Basso, Orr, Carey, Nyatanga, McAllister, Skuse, Elliott, Johnson, Sno; Maynard (Williams 77), Saborio (Haynes 52).
BLACKPOOL (4-4-2): Rachubka, Edwards, Baptiste, Eardley, Crainey, Vaughan, Southern, Adam (Clarke 61), Bouazza (Emmanuel-Thomas 61), Euell, Burgess (Ormerod 61).
REFEREE: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Adriano Basso 6
Made two routine saves but otherwise untested. Did what little he had to well.
Bradley Orr 7
Very good performance at right-back. He was a rock at the back and got forward to good effect, even if his distribution and crossing was of a usual poor standard.
Jamie McAllister 6
Did well on the whole but had two poor lapses in concentration that led to chances on goal.
Lewin Nyatanga 7
Thought he was class tonight in Fontaine’s absence. He was solid at the back, won his headers and tackles to good effect.
Louis Carey 7
Great to have the skipper back. Led from the front again and his influence is absolutely crucial to what we’re trying to do.
Lee Johnson 6
Neat and tidy in the middle, displayed a decent range of passing but faded as the game went on.
Marvin Elliott 7
Unlucky not to open his account for the season but put in a much better shift in his preferred centre mid. Broke up play to good effect.
Cole Skuse 7
Grew in stature as the game went on. He was immaculate in the second period after struggling to get into the game on the left in the first half.
Evander Sno 8
Setting very high standards for himself and would love to see him in the middle. Could’ve scored but that will come in time. Technically better than anyone else on that pitch.
Nicky Maynard 8
Does he ever score bad goals? The bicycle kick was pure gold and on another night he could’ve bagged a hat-trick. A real handful for the Blackpool defence.
Alvaro Saborio 6
Didn’t recognise it was him with his new shaven barnet but he really squandered some great chances tonight.
Danny Haynes 8
Absolutely destroyed their defence with his pace and direct running after coming on early in the second half. Scored a great goal to open his City account.
Gavin Williams 5
Largely anonymous when he came on. Few good touches but didn’t have the time to stamp his authority on the game.
GARY JOHNSON – 7/10
Better from the boss. We looked better at the back and for once he made an early sub that changed the game. Should’ve gone for a killer third though.
IAN HOLLOWAY – 5/10
Skeletor was spouting his usual shite before the game but didn’t back it up. His side were poor for large periods, out-fought and out-battled by a hungier City side.
Points On The Board Crucial
This was a big game for City ahead of the crunch clash with Newcastle.
We flew out the traps and created half a dozen decent chances in the first 20 minutes but relied on two exquisite finishes to bag the win.
Need to iron out a few defensive flaws and become more potent in front of goal but a very encouraging performance with a good tempo none the less.