Nicky Maynard and Danny Haynes tore Barnsley apart on a night when young defender Christian Ribeiro shot to prominance at Ashton Gate.
Shunned by previous manager Gary Johnson for whatever reason, the young Welshman Ribeiro rewarded caretaker Keith Millen’s choice to keep faith with him after the Newcastle game with an assured performance at the back.
Millen’s only enforced change was to bring back Liam Fontaine for the injured Jamie McAllister in an otherwise unchanged 3-5-2. Lewin Nyatanga pulled up in the warm-up allowing Jamal Campbell-Ryce to return from suspension against his former club.
And what a start to the game we had!
Within 70 seconds, City were in front. Paul Hartley, who was instrumental in the midfield, fed Marvin Elliott who picked out Danny Haynes to loop his header over Luke Steele in the Barnsley goal.
Whilst we still celebrated though, Barnsley were unbelievably back level! A cross from Luke Potter allowed Hugo Colace to steal in and slot past Gerken for 1-1 with barely 3 minutes on the board.
The goal seemed to give the impetus to the Yorkshire side who stole the lead not long after.
Ex-Tyke Campbell-Ryce was adjudged to have yanked back Felipe Teixeira and from the resultant free-kick, Teixeira fed Bobby Hassell down the right who squared for Daniel Bogdanovic to smash a low shot past Gerken on 25.
With the Gate silenced, City looked to be heading into the interval trailing but Campbell-Ryce had other ideas. After skipping past his ex-team-mate Hassell down the left, Campbell-Ryce sent in a pearler of a cross for Nicky Maynard to glance in at the far post 2 minutes before half-time as the sides went in level at the break.
Hartley fired in a dangerous cross straight after the interval but nobody was there for the tap in and 11 minutes later, City were back in front.
Fontaine’s cross went straight across the Barnsley defence, allowing Bradley Orr to send it back into the middle for Maynard to head home at the back stick (56).
Maynard then blew the chance of his first hat-trick since his debut against Royal Antwerp two years ago, by getting the ball caught up in his feet when well positioned six yards out, following great work by Danny Haynes.
Not that it mattered much as we were soon 4-2 up. Maynard skinned Ryan Shotton inside the box before squaring it to Haynes for another tap-in from eight yards on 63.
With the game seemingly in the bag, City pressed ahead for a fifth and it duly arrived on 76 minutes. Shotton hauled down Maynard in the box and, after a Maynard and Haynes had a competitve squabble over who should take it with both on hat-tricks, up stepped Paul Hartley to sweep in the penalty for 5-2.
Just when you thought that was it, Colace’s cross was headed in from Barnsley sub Andy Gray to give the visitors hope but it was to be City’s night.
CITY (3-5-2): Gerken, Ribeiro, Carey, Fontaine, Orr, Elliott (Johnson ’82), Hartley, Skuse, Campbell-Ryce, Haynes (Akinde ’91), Maynard (Clarkson ’94).
BARNSLEY (4-4-2): Steele, Hassell, Foster, Shotton, Potter, Teixeira (Anderson Da Silva ’86), Colace, Doyle, Halfredsson (Hume ’72), Macken (Gray ’67), Bogdanovic.
REFEREE: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)
Dean Gerken 6
Little to do asides from pick the ball out of his net. Don’t think he had any chance with any of their goals on first viewing.
Christian Ribeiro 8
Louis Carey 6
Not at his best, maybe showing signs of decline but still led from the front and did his bit for the cause.
Liam Fontaine 6
Decent, solid return from injury. Did ok on the whole but will be disappointed with the three goals against.
Bradley Orr 6
Got forward well but still lacking with his final ball. Sound defensively on the right but really should be producing a better end product with his passing and crossing by now.
Cole Skuse 7
Neat and tidy in the middle. Supported Hartley well by breaking things up and keeping it short and simple.
Paul Hartley 8
Inspirational performance from the Scottish talisman. Was at the heart of most positive things we did and tracked back to good effect too. Deserved his goal.
Marvin Elliott 6
Put in a workman-like shift full of energy and action but faded in the second half.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce 7
Often exposed defensively but proved a real threat going forward. Had little support so had to go solo and picked out his man several times. Job well done.
Nicky Maynard 8
He’s back in form and even scored a rare brace of headers tonight! That’s his 15th and 16th for the season and not only does he look every bit back in form but also looks the full package.
Danny Haynes 8
Excellent performance from Danny. His movement tore Barnsley apart at times and he throughly deserved his two goals. Combined to great effect with Maynard.
Ribeiro – Star In The Making?
KEITH MILLEN – 7/10
Enhanced his credentials again tonight. He picked the most balanced side we could’ve put out, given the hamstrung squad Johnson had assembled. Hartley revelled in playing further forward and the strikers looked lively as hell. Special praise needs to be given for sticking faith in youngster Ribeiro, who really rewarded him tonight.
MARK ROBINS – 5/10
Did nothing wrong really, but then again I’ve got fond memories of his loan spell with us 7 years ago! He kept his side plugging away, which showed the spirit within their camp, but ultimately had no answer to Hartley and the two strikers.
Breath Of Fresh Air
City weren’t at our best tonight, as the three goals against proved, but we certainly seem to be free of the shackles enforced on us by our former dictator.
We were willing to attack, the players seemed to know their roles within the team and how it showed.
Maynard and Haynes looked as good as we’ve seen them in a partnership, Hartley was majestic pulling the strings in the middle and Ribeiro was a class act at the back.
We should be safe this season now so please, play more of the youngsters and keep this freshness going.
Rotation? More Rubbish!
Former manager Gary Johnson used to insist that Scottish international and former Celtic skipper Paul Hartley couldn’t play two games in a week. Well Gary, as suspected, that is more complete nonsense!
Hartley’s managed the whole 95 minutes tonight to go with the 94 minutes on Saturday night and boy did he treat us to a masterclass again.
Yet more evidence Johnson didn’t know what he was doing!
Ribeiro – Star In The Making?
It beggars belief his kid was held back for as long as he was under Johnson. Constantly farmed out on loan, you could be forgiven if social services were to be called in such was his treatment, but Christian Ribeiro put in a brilliant performance tonight.
He looked a little bit shaky early on but soon settled and looked assured in every way. He kept in simple, rarely lost the ball, showed good pace to cover and provided another option going forward as well.
These two performances prove two things. One – Johnson was wrong to hold him back and, two – Steve Lansdown should be tying him to a long-term deal first thing in the morning.
Great things lie ahead for this boy.