Sitting in the East End of Ashton Gate on a Tuesday night is always strangely magical. With the notorious Blackpool drummer and two seeming seperate factions of home fans in the half-empty stand, this experience was made all the more interesting this past Tuesday, as Bristol City took on Ian Holloway’s Blackpool side.
Yes, the drummer Holloway spoke so proudly of in a recent Coca Cola League Podcast was in full-force among the orange (or should that be tangerine?) and white congregation, competing with the drum which graces the home side of the stand every home game. And throughout the evening, two versions of City chants broke out among the home fans. The only times all the City addicts in the East End sang in sync was when their jibes were aimed directly at Holloway, his past with Bristol Rovers earning him a berating which he visibly enjoyed as much as the home fans did.
The game gave the City fans plenty of opportunities to voice their opinions of the ever-eccentric Holloway. The home side played very well, and dominated the early stages, Maynard going close on a number of occassions. At one point, he sent the City fans in all four sides of the ground into momentary rapture, as the net rustled after a tap-in. Even I was convinced that he had sent the Red Army into the lead. However, as the ball bobbled towards the stand, we all realised the ripple was merely that of the side netting, and we were still at 0-0. Cue the ironic ‘waheys’ from the Blackpool fans.
However, the same fans were not cheering when Maynard did give City the lead in the 28th minute, with a marvellous overhead kick, to send the hosts into the break with a 1-0 lead.
With the mid-match rituals over, and my friend once again bemoaning his failure to win the halftime lottery, the contest resumed. Things did not get that much better for the travelling side, with substitute Danny Haynes sweeping away a great goal just 12 minutes into the second 45.
Blackpool did have their half-chances, and did force Adriano Basso into a couple of typically extravagant (and typically brilliant) saves. However, they never really looked like getting back into the game in any major way, and City went on to see the game out and secure a solid home win over an admittedly in-form Blackpool.
For those of you who want to take a look, match highlights are available on the BBC Sport website.
The win took City up to ninth in the table, with 16 points. The fact that Gary Johnson’s side are seperated from fifth-placed Cardiff only by goal difference indicates that they have made a good start to season, despite hiccups against Derby and Cardiff away from home.
They face an even tougher challenge on Saturday, however, as they travel to St James’ Park to take on league-leaders Newcastle. As the two sides haven’t met for 14 years, past results do not really matter, a concept I would like to push still further considering the Toon put five goals past City in 2 of the last five games contested between the teams, all won by the Northerners anyway.
My heart says we have a chance, my head says “home win”. However, the picture is lightened by the absences of Joey Barton, who could be out for months after sustaining a foot injury, and Fabricio Coloccini, who is also sidelined.
However, Bristol City right-back Bradley Orr, who used to be on United’s books, is convinced that, come Saturday evening, the fans coming back down to Bristol on Easyjet will have something to cheer about.
He told the BBC: “If you look around our dressing room it’s a very talented one, certainly the best I’ve been involved with in my time here.”
“It’s going to be a great day but certainly one we feel we can go and win and we believe that as a squad.”
Personally, I suggest that a draw would be a very good result. I’m concerned that Newcastle will come away with all three points, though.