Bristol City 4-2 Birmingham City: Mark Sykes scores twice as Robins beat Blues

Mark Sykes celebrates scoring for Bristol City
Midfielder Mark Sykes scored his first goals for Bristol City in the win over Birmingham

Bristol City won their first match at Ashton Gate since October with a 4-2 victory over Birmingham City.

Antoine Semenyo opened the scoring after 17 minutes, using his chest to put the ball into an empty net, before Nahki Wells doubled the lead four minutes later.

A Troy Deeney penalty narrowed the deficit before half-time after Tahith Chong was brought down in the box.

But Mark Sykes scored two second-half goals for the Robins and despite Reda Khadra pulling another goal back with 14 minutes to go, it could not stop the Blues falling to a fourth straight defeat.

Bristol City last won at home in the Championship on 12 October, enduring a run of nine league and cup matches without victory since.

They had also scored just five goals in their past five games and had to start without top scorer Tommy Conway and striker Andi Weimann due to injury.

Yet Semenyo opened the scoring with his third goal in three games after only 17 minutes. Alex Scott kicked a crossfield pass to Cameron Pring, who fired the ball across the box towards Semenyo who used his chest to put it into the net.

Wells quickly made it 2-0 after Kal Naismith’s header over the top set the forward off in a foot race with Blues Kevin Long. After beating the defender, Wells slotted the ball in off the post past Ruddy.

Bristol City’s euphoria was tempered shortly after the half-hour mark when Birmingham broke on the counter-attack and Spring tripped Chong in the box. Veteran Deeney struck the subsequent penalty into the roof of the net to narrow the deficit.

In the reverse fixture in October, Bristol City were comfortably beaten 3-0, with manager Nigel Pearson calling it a “real low point”.

This time around it was a much more confident performance from his side. Spring broke into the box past three Birmingham players to set up Sykes two minutes after the break for his first goal for the club.

He doubled his tally 19 minutes later with Semenyo the creator this time around, squaring the ball into the six-yard area for Sykes to tap in.

Khadra scored a late consolation for Birmingham, slotting the ball past Max O’Leary in goal after the hosts lost possession in midfield, but the result meant the Blues fell a place below their opponents down to 18th.

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson told BBC Radio Bristol:

“It’s more about the result, I think we’ve played OK over the last few weeks anyway but certainly our form at home in terms of results and delivering a win for our fans has been a frustrating experience for everybody.

“It’s good to get the three points and good to get such a positive performance.

“We changed to 4-3-3 in the second half last week and it worked for us and we just decided that this week it would be beneficial for us to do that. When you consider all three forwards today they scored – Antoine and Nahki got one each in the first half and Syksy got a couple in the second half – good for him.”

Birmingham City manager John Eustace told BBC Radio WM:

“Really disappointing performance today, not like us. The manner we conceded goals were very, very soft, it’s something that we’ve got to look at.

“It’s probably the worst I’ve felt since being at the football club. I felt that we weren’t at the races today and it’s something that we quickly need to put right.

“It’s something that we really need to sit down and figure out what’s going on at the moment because we’ve had a fantastic week’s training, we were really looking forward to the game and today was very disappointing.”

Line-ups

Bristol City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 12O’Leary
  • 19Tanner
  • 26vyner
  • 5Atkinson
  • 16SpringBooked at 33mins
  • 7ScottSubstituted forWilliamsat 67′minutes
  • 4NaismithSubstituted forDasilvaat 84′minutes
  • 6James
  • 17Sykes
  • 21WellsSubstituted forBellat 79′minutes
  • 11SemenyoBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1Bentleys
  • 3Dasilva
  • 8Williams
  • 10King
  • 20Bell
  • 27Kadji
  • 35Taylor-Clarke

Birmingham

Formation 5-3-2

  • 21Ruddy
  • 2Colin
  • 28sandersonSubstituted forKhadraat 59′minutes
  • 26LongBooked at 12mins
  • 5Trusty
  • 11Graham
  • 7Bacuna
  • 31BielikSubstituted forJamesat 85′minutes
  • 18chong
  • 9HoganSubstituted forJutkiewiczat 74′minutes
  • 8DeeneySubstituted forMejbriat 74′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Etheridge
  • 3Friend
  • 6Mejbri
  • 10Jutkiewicz
  • 17Khadra
  • 19James
  • 42Chang

Referees:
John Busby

Attendance:
21.489

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