BRISTOL CITY 3 (Elliott 19, Adomah 21, Clarkson 60 P)
BARNSLEY 3 (Gray 4 P, 12; Hammill 50)
LIVE FROM ASHTON GATE
BARNSLEY went from the sublimely brilliant to the frustrating after a wonderful advertisement for Championship football at Ashton Gate.
Mark Robins was back on his old stomping ground after a successful loan spell at Bristol City as a player looking to guide his side to their first away success since February. Confidence was sky high following last weekend's home win against Crystal Palace and Robins went with the same starting eleven that performed well at Oakwell. There was a something of a surprise on the bench with youngster Steven Bennett getting his first senior call up after impressing for the reserves on Wednesday night. The Reds were searching for their first win at Ashton Gate since 1993.
Bristol City had Jamal Campbell-Ryce in their starting eleven with fellow ex-Red Tom Williams on the bench. The Robins could also boast England's World Cup goalkeeper David James in their side with the imposing former Portsmouth, Aston Villa and Liverpool shot-stopper looking to keep the Reds at bay. City were unchanged following their draw at Doncaster Rovers last time out.
The latest news from Ashton Gate was the imminent arrival of Bournemouth striker Bret Pitmann, who turned down Premier League football with Blackpool earlier this week. Pitmann is due to sign for City on Monday.
Barnsley started brilliantly with outstanding play by Andy Gray and Goran Lovre freeing Adam Hammill in the area. Hammill then did well to pick out Hugo Colace and the Argentine coolly nipped around Cole Skuse before being hacked clumsily to the ground by the City midfielder. It was a definite penalty and Gray made no mistake beating James from 12 yards.
City were rocking and crazy defending by Nicky hunt presented Hammill with a great chance on six minutes but the winger could not turn the ball into the net with James' fuming at his full back.
Bristol City's day went from bad to worse as Skuse paid the price for going in heavy on Colace and was forced out of the action with less than nine minutes on the clock. Lee Johnson, son of former manager Gary, was thrown in to replace him.
Barnsley were in dreamland on 12 minutes when Gray somehow turned the ball around the corner under pressure to send Kieran Trippier away. The Manchester City loan star exploded past a flat-footed Jamie McAllister before sending over a world class cross for Gray to sweep home from six yards out.
It was almost three on 14 minutes as Diego Arismendi cut open City to free Jay McEveley down the left. The full back again put his cross into the right area but there was no Barnsley player able to turn it home.
Gray should have had a hat trick on 17 minutes as he combined well with Colace to break through the Bristol City defence and in on James but he lofted his shot over the bar. It should have been a goal.
Bristol City grabbed a goal back they just did not deserve on 19 minutes and it came from a real moment of bad luck for Luke Steele. The Reds keeper came flying out to claim Hunt's lofted free kick but clattered into Jason Shackell and lost the ball. Marvin Elliott was able to turn the ball into an empty net with Steele laying prone on the pitch.
It was the Reds turn to wilt at Ashton Gate just two minutes later as David Clarkson raced to the byline before pulling the ball back for Albert Adomah to level things up from 12 yards.
Barnsley never let their heads drop and again got through City's shaky defence on 28 minutes as Lovre's pass put Colace through but the Argentine just could not control the ball when faced up by James.
Still the chances came. Trippier's deep corner on 33 minutes caught out City and fell to Colace at the back post but this time the midfielder could only rifle the ball into the sidenetting.
Barnsley were well on top again but were almost caught out at the back on 36 minutes as Ivan Sproule raced forward before feeding Adomah but the striker could only shoot straight at Steele from the edge of the box. Elliott then saw a header deflect over the bar on 38 minutes as City put the Reds under pressure from Hunt's free kick.
James had to be at his very, very best on 41 minutes to turn away Arismendi's 35-yard thunderbolt but City's star man was somehow able to parry it away. City were looking clueless in defence again on 43 minutes as a neatly worked corner from Trippier gave Shackell a free header 16 yards out but the Reds skipper nodded over the bar.
Campbell-Ryce hit the deck under Arismendi's challenge in stoppage time to earn the Reds midfielder a booking.
Barnsley were on the front foot again in the opening exchanges of the second half. Colace almost got it right on 47 minutes as he threaded the ball through the heart of the City defence but Hammill just could not beat James to his pass.
Great play by Lovre and Hammill then freed Trippier in yards of space on 49 minutes but the youngster saw his shot cannon away off Liam Fontaine.
The goal finally came on 50 minutes when Hammill terrified the City defence by racing in from the left before crashing a shot off Fontaine and past James into the back of the net.
Hammill turned provider three minutes later with an outstanding cross-field pass to free Trippier. The on loan star took his time and picked out Lovre but the midfielder could not get a difficult chance goalward.
Gray almost had a hat trick again on 55 minutes when brilliant play by Lovre and Colace fashioned half a chance in the area but this time the striker saw his shot cannon away off a defender. City were able to clear the danger following a scramble in the box.
City only looked a threat when Sproule was able to get on the ball. The winger did McEveley all ends up on the hour mark and nipped away in the area only for the Reds full back to stick out his leg, send him tumbling and win a spot kick. It was a clumsy challenge and Clarkson did the business from the spot.
Again the goal didn't knock the Reds out of their impressive stride. Trippier had City scrambling on 63 minutes with a fine cross that gave Gray another chance but this time the striker nodded high over from the penalty spot.
Barnsley were breaking through the heart of the City defence on 75 minutes as Hammill burst through only for the linesman to give a very harsh free kick for handball. To be fair the official only gave the decision when the Bristol City fans appealed behind him. It was not lost on manager Mark Robins and his bench.
Trippier then had his legs taken from behind by Elliott three minutes later as he threatened to race into a good position but another decision went against the Reds as referee Andy Penn gave nothing.
City had a golden chance to win it on 78 minutes as John Akinde raced into the area but sliced his shot well, well wide with only Steele to beat. The home side had the ball in the back of the net again on 82 minutes as Sproule raced through but the flag was up before he raced up Steele.
Barnsley big chance to settle it came on 86 minutes when McEveley and Gray combined well but the full back blazed well over the top when through on goal. It was a big miss.
Steele saved the Reds on 89 minutes with a wonderful save to prevent Shackell's deflection from fizzing into the back of the net. Steele, who did not have much to do throughout the game, was bright and alert enough to make a brilliant stop.
BRISTOL CITY: James, Hunt, Fontaine, Stewart, McAllister, Elliott, Skuse (c), Campbell-Ryce (Akinde 72), Sproule, Clarkson (G. Williams 88), Adomah.
Subs: Carey, Johnson, Gerken, Jackson, T. Williams.
BARNSLEY: Steele, Hassell, Foster, Shackell (c), McEveley, Trippier (Neumann 87), Arismendi (Doyle 81), Colace, Lovre, Hammill, Gray.
Subs: Hume, Devaney, Preece, Butterfield, Bennett.
Andy Penn (West Midlands)
Adam Nunn (Wiltshire) and Neil Radford (Worcestershire)
Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)
Attendance - 13,585
Away - 368
Match Report by Rob Knowles - live at Ashton Gate.
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