Bristol City 0 Burton Albion 0

Nonsensical foolishness at Ashton Gate today, a real festival of ineptitude. Lee Tomlin rugby-converted the Bristol City penalty into the crowd, or perhaps even into low Earth orbit, but Burton Albion’s Lloyd Dyer’s open goal miss was something quite bonkers.

The ball came in from the right-wing, low and hard, daisycutter-style. Dyer, maybe two yards out and at the far post, somehow managed to put it past the near post instead. It was a seemingly impossible parabola, something almost in the same physics-defying ball park as the Warren Commission’s phoney-baloney ‘Magic Bullet’ theory on the JFK murder, only this actually happened, at least I think it happened. I was about 15 yards away and time seemed to stand still and then psychedelically morph as the ball managed to end up outside the goal. I still need to watch the video. As I type, I still want conformation that it actually happened.

The home crowd greeted the miss not with full-throated cheers but with a kind of mass inhalation. Incomprehension all around. If the game took place within a comic there would have been one big ‘thinks bubble’ floating over the stadium just containing the symbol “?”.

Good for Lloyd Dyer, though. Although he was substituted later in the game, he didn’t go missing after his epic miss, he still kept his head in the game; he kept trying without losing focus. If Dyer tried to do the same miss 1,000 times, I wonder if he could have repeated it?

When Lloyd got taken off, the was some sarcastic applause from the home fans but there was a more a sense of awe that he hadn’t just collapsed into a fetal position and started crying. Lloyd Dyer proved himself to be a man with huge figurative balls. That run off of the pitch with his head held up high after that zany miss: he couldn’t have been more impressive and inspiring than if he’d took on, and beat, a whole pub full of gangsters in a mass bare-knuckle brawl. Genuinely, what a man.

These things happen. Sometimes people trip over themselves and fall in the street: they don’t need someone to walk up to them and ask: “What was with your fall? You’re an adult; you put one foot in front of the other, like you’ve always done previously. Why couldn’t you do it? It would have kept you upright, wouldn’t it?…..”.

A terrible couple of sides facing each other, like two bald men fighting over a comb. Bristol City’s Lee Tomlin had crashed the ball against the bar after a couple of minutes but the home side lost their grip and started to get outplayed by the mediocre but workmanlike Burton. On the stroke of half time, Bristol City had a Aaron Wilbraham goal disallowed but I know not why. David Cotterill whipped a corner into the six yard box and Wilbraham – who had defenders pulling on him all game – bullet headed it into the net. Thank God for that but no, it was ruled out, I guess due to Aaron fouling his defenders in return.

During the second half, it looked like neither side would ever score again. Bristol City skied a woeful penalty and had the ball cleared off the line three times in the same phase of play while Burton tried their best too.

There was some loud home crowd booing at the end but it felt like more of a message towards the manager, or rather the board, than a comment on the team, who’d really tried hard all day. I felt sorry for the players. They really gave it some but the team, as a team, just doesn’t cut the mustard, especially with Tammy Abraham – the 19 year old Chelsea loan and around whom City’s hopes have been necklaced – out of action.

Bristolian Joe Bryan suffered some adverse crowd attention for some bad play: for trying to dribble away from the penalty area and losing it, for over hitting crosses to a gross extent. He disappeared in parts of the game, some say because of the crowd reaction and that his confidence is shot-to-pieces but I think it was more that he was found out. The odd excellent goal and the fact that he’s from the area has, to me, often seemed to blind people from the fact that end product doesn’t seem to be his ‘thing’ at this level. However, Bryan, like the rest of the players, gave it some real effort, all in all, under trying circumstances.

The board seem to be steadfastly behind boss Lee Johnson, though, despite of the team being in the kind of free fall that normally only comes with a sponsorship by ‘Red Bull’. I’ve lost count of the run of form but it’s something like losing 14 of the last 21 games, with the only victory being against the moribund Rotherham United since winning against Ipswich at the start of December.

It felt like I was getting a taste of next season: in a fair and just world, both sides should be down in League One next season, to be honest. If the team was a stick of rock and you broke it in half, the word ‘relegation’ would run right through it.

 

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