Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
Bristol City’s 100 per cent record in pre-season came to an end at the hands of La Liga side Granada at Pinatar Arena.
City were certainly competitive against a strong outfit who moved the ball quickly, but were undone by goals in each half from Gabriel Silva and Javi Marquez.
Lee Johnson handed a debut to Icelandic international Hordur Magnusson alongside Aden Flint at the heart of the City defence.
Gary O’Neil, who joined up with the squad following the arrival of his baby daughter, started at the base of a midfield diamond, with fellow summer recruits Josh Brownhill to the right, Callum O’Dowda to the left and Lee Tomlin behind the strikers.
City nearly fell behind inside five minutes when former Birmingham City loanee Jon Toral headed against the post from close range after a corner ran through to the far post.
But there was good energy in the City side, who were pressing from the front at every opportunity against opponents who wanted time on the ball.
On one occasion Jonathan Kodjia dispossessed last man Ruben Perez to go clean through, but goalkeeper Ivan Kelava dived at his feet and prevented the Frenchman from rounding him.
Then strike partner Aaron Wilbraham broke clear down the right flank from Brownhill’s clever pass, but Kelava stretched out a big right hand to repel the skipper’s cross with Kodjia waiting to pounce.
City were improving but it was the La Liga side who struck first midway through the first half. Silva, a former Brazil Under-20 international, had only just been denied by Richard O’Donnell before darting into the box again, trading passes with Toral and finishing with aplomb.
But City continued to threaten, with Kodjia looking particularly menacing as Granada struggled to cope with his pace.
The striker showed electric pace to burst into the box but prodded wide as Kelava rushed out, before some great work to keep alive a long ball took him to the byeline, but he was unable to pick out Wilbraham.
Johnson introduced Bobby Reid for Brownhill at half-time, but would wait until midway through the second period to make wholesale changes.
By that point City were 2-0 down, as a low shot from distance by substitute Marquez took a deflection to wrongfoot the rooted O’Donnell.
But there was not a huge amount between the teams. City were a danger on the counter-attack with the speed and directness of Kodjia, but were struggling to convert promising breaks into really standout chances.
A quintet of changes in the 68th minute saw Zak Vyner, Marlon Pack, Joe Bryan, Luke Freeman and Kieran Agard enter the fray.
Luke Ayling and Diego De Girolamo also arrived from the bench later in the game, but by that point the spectacle had rather fizzled out and only a Reid shot from distance threatened to add to the scoring.
Bristol City: O’Donnell, Little (Ayling 76), Flint (Vyner 68), Magnusson (Williams 79), Golbourne (De Girolamo 82), O’Neil, Brownhill (Reid 46), O’Dowda (Bryan 68), Tomlin (Pack 68), Wilbraham (Freeman 68), Kodjia (Agard 68).