Tuesday 19th January 2016 ko 19.45
FA Cup Third Round Replay
BRISTOL CITY 0
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (Rondon 52)
The wonderful thing about having a football-loving girlfriend is that you get to immerse yourself in her club, and enjoy the common factors between your two clubs. Robyn is a Bristol City season ticket holder and knows the game and her club inside out so there were many reasons to pay Ashton Gate another visit.
The first thing I noticed was that I recognised very little! My last visit was over 15 years ago, and only the Atyeo Stand remains unaltered from then. The main Dolman Stand has been extensively refurbished, the South Stand rebuilt, and the West Stand is in the process of being rebuilt, and if you haven’t driven past Ashton Gate from the Clifton Suspension Bridge then let me assure you, that new stand looks huge!
Some of you may be aware that Bristol City installed a small section of rail seating, in anticipation of “Safe Standing” being introduced in UK football ground. Those were in the south-west corner of the ground, and due to the developments have now been removed.
It means that the current capacity of Ashton Gate is around 15,500, too small for the club’s needs, but the new West Stand will seat 11,000 extra. The only real difficulty is City are struggling at the wrong end of the Championship, and the club needs to remain at least at this level to make the developments worthwhile. Manager Steve Cotterill had been sacked the previous week, and despite a morale-boosting draw away at Premier League West Bromwich the sense of unease was obvious.
For the casual fan, the new South stand is a fine edifice, with the unusual feature of the turnstiles leading directly into the concourse. If you can, get a ticket for high up in the stand, the view of Brunel’s masterpiece, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is not to be missed. It was a shame I couldn’t bring my SLR camera to do the view justice.
It was a most enjoyable evening out, visiting a ground in its traditional place right amongst the homes housing its supporters, but predictably the game was poor. West Bromwich are managed by Tony Pulis, not noted for his teams producing expansive football, and with City having to protect Max O’Leary the youth team keeper on debut, the scope for quicksilver winger Wesley Burns to rampage was reduced.
Sadly if you’re a City fan, and fortunately if you’re a neutral or a WBA fan we did get a goal. Sadly it came from O’Leary’s error, failing to claim a cross allowing Salomon Rondon to nip in an stroke home. It was fair on the balance of play, if unfortunate for the young man. Still, there was time for the ceremonial booing of former Bristol Rovers striker Rickie Lambert when Pulis made a clock-running substitution late on.
In the final analysis both clubs have bigger fish to fry, West Bromwich to make sure they’ll be in the most lucrative Premier League ever next season and for Bristol City to make sure Robyn isn’t unhappy at the end of the season!