Bristol City 1-1 Fulham: Late Tom Cairney goal cancels out Nahki Wells’ opener as both teams lose ground in Championship promotion race
- Nahki Wells opened the scoring 20 minutes from time with close-range header
- Tom Cairney equalised with six minutes to play with fine left-footed finish
- Draw leaves Fulham four points off Leeds and Bristol a point off play-offs
A point is a point but you gained the impression this draw wasn’t especially helpful to anyone.
Tom Cairney’s equaliser does at least Fulham clinging to the coattails of West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United in those two cherished automatic promotion places but their task is growing ever harder.
Bristol City, who’d led thanks to Nahki Wells in this slow-burner of a contest, stay very much in the play-off picture but should have enjoyed the morale-boost of a first win in five.
Tom Cairney struck late on to earn Fulham a 1-1 draw with Bristol City at Ashton Gate
Nakhi Wells had put the hosts in front with a close-range header with 20 minutes to play
The only real winners from this point shared were the top two as they glance anxiously in their rear-view mirror, and the likes of Millwall and Preston North End who share City’s ambition of an extended season.
Fulham should have been at least two goals ahead by the time they fell behind, to a 71st-minute header from Wells but at least they possessed the tenacity to fight back.
It was their captain Cairney, sweeping home into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after referee David Coote played the advantage when Harry Arter was fouled by Tomas Kalas.
It displeased City, especially as Kalas believed he was the one brought down by Arter moments before Cairney found the net, but they couldn’t begrudge Fulham a point overall.
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE
Season at a glance
Bristol City (4-4-2): Maenpaa; Pereira, Kalas, Baker (Benkovic 23), Dasilva; Paterson (Diedhiou 64), Smith (c), Massengo, O’Dowda; Weimann, Wells (Eliasson 90)
Substitutes not used: Wollacott (GK); Hunt, Williams, Palmer
Manager: Lee Johnson
Scorer: Wells 71
Booked: Pereira, Benkovic
Fulham (4-3-3): Rodak; Christie, Hector, Ream (Knockaert 82), Odoi; Decordova-Reid (Johansen 90+3), Arter, Cairney (c); Kamara, Mitrovic, Cavaleiro (Kebano 66)
Substitutes not used: Bettinelli (GK); McDonald, O’Riley, Sessegnon
Manager: Scott Parker
Scorer: Cairney 84
Booked: Arter, Odoi
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)
Bristol City were celebrating 125 years of their foundation at Bristol South End
There was a nostalgic atmosphere at Ashton Gate with the Robins marking the 125th anniversary of their foundation at Bristol South End.
The club’s initiatives to mark the occasion included £12.50 tickets to ensure a substantial crowd, a commemorative programme and a rather low key pre-match parade of 40 club legends.
In his programme notes, City chief executive Mark Ashton spoke of Fulham being a ‘poignant fixture’, being the first opponents the club faced after being rescued from bankruptcy and extinction in February 1982.
Things are much rosier at the moment; the objective is to return to the top-flight for the first time in 40 years, but a sticky patch for Lee Johnson’s side and the associated drop in confidence seemed to manifest itself in a first-half that Fulham controlled.
Parker’s side have continued to grind out wins of late, refusing to give up their pursuit of Leeds United in the second automatic promotion race and they were afforded plenty of freedom to attack here.
Cairney had the game’s first effort, a scuffed shot from range that went harmlessly wide, but clearer openings would follow.
Aboubakar Kamara earned a start but spurned opportunities for Fulham in the first half
Aboubakar Kamara, who’d earned a start here following some good recent displays off the bench, crossed invitingly for Bobby Decordova-Reid but his glancing header missed the target.
It was an interesting afternoon for Decordova-Reid, the Bristolian who played at Ashton Gate first in the academy and later as a regular starter for three Championship seasons. Some fans applauded him, others jeered.
Kamara also blasted a shot into the side-netting when he might have looked to find Aleksandar Mitrovic. But Fulham truly came to life in stoppage time at the end of an otherwise forgettable first-half.
Decordova-Reid’s snapshot forced Niki Maenpaa into a reaction save, pushing the ball away with strong wrists, before Arter fired wide.
Bristolian Bobby Decordova-Reid returned to his former club and could have scored
City were restricted to half-chances during before half-time, with Fulham keeper Marek Rodak dealing comfortably with a Nahki Wells header and Andreas Weimann’s low hit.
Wells looked lively and he almost broke the deadlock moments after the restart with a deflected shot off Tim Ream that almost caught Rodak out at his near post.
At the other end, Decordova-Reid should have done better when Mitrovic slipped him clear with a neat flick, but he fired straight at Maenpaa as Fulham frustrations mounted.
Andreas Weimann was unable to put his team ahead after a break up-field looked dangerous
With 20 minutes remaining, Weimann set Bristol City on a fast break that was momentarily four versus two but Tim Ream shepherded him out of play.
From Callum O’Dowda’s corner, Mitrovic couldn’t get enough purchase on a clearing header, the ball knocked back by Famara Diedhiou and Pedro Pereira nodded it into space at the far post.
And there was Wells, bravely sticking his head in to divert the ball underneath Rodak and home, his second goal in Bristol City colours since moving from QPR and his 17th of the season.
At the time it looked to be enough, but Cairney had other ideas.
After Wells’s opener, Cairney’s fine finish salvaged a point for Fulham in the 84th minute
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