Nahki Wells on target but Bristol City lose chance to go top
Nahki Wells came off the substitutes’ bench to grab his fourth goal of the season in the Sky Bet Championship, but his promotion-chasing Bristol City side ultimately slumped to a 3-1 defeat away to rival contenders Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading’s first win in five outings propelled them into third place ahead of the afternoon kick-offs, while the Robins, who could have temporarily moved into first with three points, dropped to fourth.
A cagey affair sprang into life in the second half, with Reading displaying all the flair that underpinned their outstanding start to the season, which saw them go nine matches unbeaten with eight wins.
Daniel Bentley was outstanding in the City goal, his interventions preventing Reading from running away with it in an electric spell five minutes either side of the interval.
But there was little he could do in the 54th minute when an Ovie Ejaria shot from just inside the box after a jinking run from the left took a deflection into the near post and left him wrong-footed.
City manager Dean Holden reacted immediately and called for Chris Martin and Wells from the bench to bolster the attack, having started with Antoine Semenyo and Famara Diedhiou as the focal point of a 3-5-2.
Serbian manager Veljko Paunovic’s men had several chances to build on their lead, but found Bentley in the way time and again. And they looked to pay dearly for such profligacy when Wells equalised in the 73rd minute.
The Bermuda striker was first to react, beating goalkeeper Rafael Cabral to the ball from close range, after Taylor Moore got his head on to a Jamie Paterson free kick.
YESSSSSS!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/lGoA5ZHEaS— Bristol City FC (@BristolCity) November 28, 2020
The goal, Wells’s eighth in 23 appearances for City since signing in January this year, ended a personal six-match scoring drought.
City almost took the lead when Martin went close with a near-post header, but Reading reasserted their dominance with a spellbinding final quarter-hour.
Michael Olise, Yakou Meite and Lucas João were to the fore in most of what Reading did well on the day, and it was fitting they featured in the goals that killed off the match.
On 76 minutes, João combined with Olise just inside the City half before the latter played a sumptuous pass that released Meite on the blind side of the last man.
The Ivorian, who had curved his off-the-ball run from right to left, kept his composure under pressure from the covering Jay Dasilva and picked his spot low to Bentley’s right.
Harsh on City, having just found parity, but the scoreline was just.
The home side, exuding confidence, had a number of chances to run up the score but found Bentley and the woodwork in their way.
In the end, a third goal would come, João capping a man-of-the-match performance by finishing off a move started by Meite in the 90th minute.
City, whose defeat was their first in four matches, are back in action on Tuesday night away to Wells’s former loan club, Queens Park Rangers — at the start of a sequence of five games in a fortnight that so typifies the hurly-burly of the Championship.