Bristol City v Birmingham: Difficult to dismiss resolute Robins
In-form Bristol City entertain Birmingham at Ashton Gate for Friday night football from the Championship. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds...
Bristol City v Birmingham Friday February 7, 19:45 Sky Sports
Bristol Cit continue fine recent form
Bristol City made it four successive Championship victories without conceding a goal for the first time since 1990 under Joe Jordan's watch as they overcame QPR 1-0 at Loftus Road last Saturday. Famara Diedhiou's diving header was enough to seal the points with the Robins remaining sixth in the standings and just five points below the automatic promotion places.
Diedhiou's strike came just 15 minutes into the contest with the Senegal international meeting right-back Jack Hunt's perfect cross to break the deadlock. The Bristol City marksman forced the home goalkeeper into several more solid saves throughout the match, including a fine stop from an overhead kick as Lee Johnson's side created the better chances.
Nahki Wells came off the bench for his Robins debut after the hour mark and failed to convert a golden chance to double the visitors' advantage. But despite enjoying less than 30% of the ball, City stopper Daniel Bentley was only called on to make a solitary save as the visitors recorded a 10th Championship clean sheet of the campaign in the capital.
Debut goal inspires Birmingham turnaround
Scott Hogan scored on his Birmingham debut as Blues came from behind to register a vital victory against Nottingham Forest last week and extend their unbeaten Championship run to four games. The Irish international levelled proceedings shortly after Lee Camp had saved a penalty at the other end, with Kristian Pedersen bundling the ball home for the winner.
The visitors arrived at St Andrew's with one of the best away records in the division and were ahead inside the opening 20 minutes. Forest had opportunities to extend their advantage from the spot before Birmingham's equaliser and went on to crash an effort off the crossbar, as well as seeing a further attempt cleared off the line by Harlee Dean.
Birmingham held on and pinched the points through Pedersen as they picked up their first win at St Andrew's since November to please boss Pep Clotet. He said, "As a group, we managed the second half very well and were very dangerous on the break. I would say we deserved the win." Blues are expected to be without Dan Crowley and Kerim Mrabti here.
Resolute Robins difficult to dismiss
Bristol City boast a curiously poor record when welcoming Birmingham to Ashton Gate over the past two decades. The Robins have lost six of their most recent eight home encounters with Blues here since 1999, pocketing a sole success of their own (W1-D1-L6) in that same sequence. The visitors triumphed here 2-1 on their most recent visit 12 months ago.
Bristol City2.26 are very much in the thick of the promotion race after tabling four triumphs on the trot. The Robins' underlying process remains reasonably unremarkable, however, the hosts have a knack of picking up positive results against the league's lesser lights; City have W13-D5-L2 when taking on teams in 12th and below this season.
Birmingham3.50 have earned 20 (54%) of their 37-point tally against sides in the bottom-eight alongside them. Blues have W4-D5-L11 against the rest of the division with Pep Clotet's team losing seven of 10 meetings with top-eight opposition. The visitors have kept their sheets clean just four times this term, and have failed to do so on the road since mid-September.
Bristol City to keep Blues at bay
Four of the past five Bristol City and Birmingham showdowns have seen both sides score, although Friday's fixture might not follow a familiar path with just one of the hosts' past nine Championship outings paying-out in the Both Teams To Score column.
Instead, look to keep the Robins onside in the Double Chance market alongside Under 3.5 Goals for a generous 1.90 offering on Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi. City are unbeaten when welcoming bottom-half outfits to Ashton Gate this season and head into the match having recorded five shutouts in their last six league games.