Bristol City captain Dan Bentley believes the Robins showed Championship pace-setters too much respect at times during their loss at Ashton Gate as the Robins search for a home win continues.
City were completely outplayed by Scott Parker’s Cherries as Jamal Lowe and Jordan Zemura scored first-half goals to secure a 2-0 win but the margin of victory could have been considerably larger.
The Cherries had 22 shots to City’s five, with the post-match expected goals (according to Infogol) reading 2.08-0.44 in what was a performance of total dominance by the league leaders who, at certain points, were effectively queuing up to score.
City did lose midfielder Andy King to injury in the final 16 minutes, with Nigel Pearson having already made three substitutions to try and change the game, leaving them short-handed and opening up further gaps.
But Bentley accepts the damage was done in the opening 45 minutes where City could barely lay a glove on the visitors as Zemura’s strike just before the interval left them with too great a challenge in the second half.
“We can’t perform like we did in the first-half against a team like Bournemouth and expect to come away with anything from the game,” Bentley told bcfc.co.uk. “I thought we were really sloppy in possession..
“Probably gave them a little bit too much respect. Obviously we they’re a really good team, they have a lot of ability and are top of the league for a reason but we could have taken the game to them a little bit.
“Certainly needed to be less sloppy in possession, our passing to be a bit more crisp with each other and greater pass appreciation for each other.
“We were slightly better second half but we down to 10 men and a team that good in possession are always going to hurt you.
“You can’t afford to make mistakes in a game like this and unfortunately the damage was done. If you go in half-time at 1-0, then I think you give yourself a bit of a chance to take the game to Bournemouth but we shot ourselves in a foot a bit.”
Pearson’s City are not a possession-heavy team, preferring to sit in an organised low to mid block and then try and counter, but when they did get hold of the ball they were often wasteful and inefficient in getting it forward or at least taking the heat out of the game.
Bournemouth finished with a mammoth 73.3% possession and were successful with 83% of their passes, compared to City’s paltry 56%.
Pearson accepted after the game that the Cherries were clearly the better team but there is much to ponder for the Robins manager who is now waiting on injury assessments for midfielders Joe Williams and King ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Nottingham Forest.
As City look to prevent a 17th-straight winless game on home soil, ominously Forest are unbeaten in four matches since Steve Cooper took over, winning three of them.
“We knew Saturday was going to be tough, we know the game against Forest is going to be tough; it’s the Championship, it’s the nature of the beast, every game is difficult, if you excuse the cliche,” Bentley added.
“We have got to dust ourselves off now, we can’t dwell on this performance and this result. We have to go into the Forest game with positivity and we’ll take the thing we could have done better today and turn them into positives and correct them for Tuesday.”