Bristol City denied at the Gate
Nigel Pearson was back in the Bristol City dugout on Saturday after recovering from an illness related to Covid-19 but the Robins boss was unable to inspire his side to a rare home success. Callum O'Dowda had given the Ashton Gate outfit a deserved lead against Blackburn after dominating the first half but second-half Rovers pressure eventually told.
City were pleased with their performance in the 1-1 draw, producing their best collective display since before October's international break. The hosts did almost pocket maximum points in the final six minutes when Nahki Wells had a header well saved. The only major negative was Tomas Kalas' misplaced header that led directly to the visitors' leveller.
Ayman Benarous was handed a first Robins start by Pearson, who felt his team deserved more from their first-half exploits. Speaking post-match he said, "To create chances in the first half to go ahead and still not end up on the winning side remains a frustration, but the response was there and I have to recognise that as being a step in the right direction."
Stoke extend streak
Stoke moved up to fourth in the Championship with a third win in a row against struggling Peterborough. Mario Vrancic's deflected shot put the Potters in front early on before Jacob Brown almost made it two after charging down David Cornell's clearance. Posh did rally but were fortunate to only be a goal down before Tyrese Campbell added a late second.
Sam Surridge's red card in the first minute of added time following an altercation threatened to give the visitors a route back but Michael O'Neill's injury-hit squad held out before Campbell's decisive second - his first goal for the Potters after a year out of action.
The victory extends Stoke's unbeaten streak to four with City keeping three consecutive clean sheets in the process, a pleasing return for O'Neill, who said: "Three clean sheets is brilliant. We've had quite a bit of disruption in our back three. For a while it was picking itself but now with injuries the boys deserve a lot of credit for the way they defended."
Curiously, the home team has failed to take top honours in the last six Championship renewals between Bristol City and Stoke. Indeed, both of last season's showdowns between the pair went the way of the away team. Meanwhile, the Potters have returned an impressive W3-D3-L1 from their past seven league trips to Ashton Gate going back to 1994.
Bristol City 3.4012/5 have bagged just one home win in their last 19 Ashton Gate outings (W1-D6-L12). Go back to the beginning of 2020/21 and the Robins have lost exactly half of their 32 fixtures in front of their home supporters, failing to even score in 14/32 (44%). The hosts rank second bottom for home Expected Points (xP), and home Expected Goals (xG) ratio.
Stoke 2.226/5 arrive having pocketed three successive wins without conceding, and the Potters are unbeaten in four (W3-D1-L0) Championship encounters. However, the visitors haven't won four league games in a row since December 2011, have a series of injury of issues and have managed just W9-D12-L11 on their travels since the start of last season.
Bristol City have largely been entertaining to follow in the Championship this term but the majority of the Robins' high-scoring matches have arrived away from Ashton Gate. On home soil, City have seen just 1.89 goals per-game with only two of their nine outings here breaking the Over 2.5 Goals 1.9210/11 barrier.
Stoke are unsurprisingly quite stingy in the goals markets under Michael O'Neill's watch - just eight of 18 matches producing Over 2.5 Goals profit - and collectively the two teams have seen Under 3.5 Goals collect in only one of their combined 18 home/away dates.
With that in mind, I'm happy to take on the Stoke Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals approach at 1.758/11. We'll be paid out should the Potters win 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 or 2-1, as well as the 0-0 and 1-1 stalemates.