The curtain has closed on what will ultimately be remembered as Bristol City’s most underwhelming season for a decade.
While supporters being forced to watch on from home will, to many, automatically make it the most forgettable in a lifetime, the subdued displays leave the Robins perhaps fortunate to even be competing at Championship level for a seventh straight campaign come August.
Ashton Gate has been a comfortable venue for visiting sides this season, with City possessing the third-worst home record in the division in terms of points win – only Birmingham City and Rotherham United performing to a lesser level on their own turf.
Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Brentford marked the ninth loss in 10 dreary home matches for City.
Unfortunately, the bad news keeps on coming, as with season cards on sale ahead of next season, this is likely to be the final instalment of the five moments missed column. Make of that what you will …
Here are a handful of events picked up on during the loss to the Bees.
Pearson addresses Young Player of the Year
Antoine Semenyo has had quite the season.
Nigel Pearson recently confessed that he was merely expected to act as a squad player this campaign but the 21-year-old starlet has only missed two league games all year, one of which being yesterday’s convincing defeat.
Though the goals have not flowed as freely as the former Newport County loanee would have liked, his attacking impetus and tenacity was something the Robins depended on as their sole threat at times, hence his recognition with the award.
Pearson clearly rates Semenyo, spending a near five minutes with his arm around the youngster’s shoulder prior to kick-off yesterday, and perhaps sees the prospect as someone he can look to build a new-look City team around next season.
Before the match, it was confirmed by the manager that a knock to the knee in training was the reason behind the attacker’s exclusion from the matchday squad.
Fear not, Nathan Baker has not changed.
Many City supporters will stand in agreement that alongside the energy and drive of Andi Weimann, Baker’s physicality and aggression has been a sore, sore miss for their team this season.
A league-high total of goals conceded from set-plays (23) perhaps supports this point best, and the 30-year-old gave an example of what the Robins had been missing just seven minutes in, clattering into visiting midfielder Vitaly Janelt, who rose with a limp.
However, in the eyes of Baker, the tackle was never a foul, as the defender retreated to position vehemently shaking his head, and being told to ‘calm down’ by referee James Linington in the process.
It was a physical, feisty display from Pearson’s side, who saw four players enter the book.
“F*****g every time”
This was the cry from an unknown Brentford player as Danny Simpson charged into Bees attacker Tariqe Fosu, a foul which saw the Premier League winner enter the book of Linington.
The visitors were evidently losing their cool with the hosts but Pearson was visibly pleased with the aggressive approach from his side, who have often been accused of being a soft touch this campaign.
Simpson, of course, is soon to be out of contract at Ashton Gate, having signed a short-term deal in March, but did his utmost to convince his manager he’s worth keeping on for next season, both in terms of ability and attitude.
Though there is of course a colossal gap to fill technically if City are to compete at the top end of the Championship again next season, as despite ruffing up their opponents, they were simply outclassed on the pitch.
Farewell from Famara?
It’s a typical end-of-season tradition.
Usually, in front of a packed house, players will parade their often young families around the pitch, thanking fans for their support over a long, hard campaign.
However, this year of course there was no need for that.
Though that didn’t stop Famara Diedhiou from bringing his son onto the Ashton Gate pitch and practising some short passes with him following the games’ finale.
The pair also posed for photos in what looked like a farewell to the turf the Senegalese had called home for the past four years.
Pearson did little to suggest that the former Angers striker may yet stay in BS3 either, as when quizzed on the future of his number nine, he simply responded; “As I’ve already pointed out, we will disclose players who are staying and players who aren’t later in the week. We will do it in one go.”
“I’ve spoken to Fam. The situation is clear, but it is not for public consumption yet.”
The prime positive from yesterday was no doubt the debut goal for promising young striker Louis Britton, who found himself in space to cooly convert a Baker flick.
In the grand scheme of things it was a mere consolation against an evidently superior Brentford side, but the strike is a deserved reward to the frontman, who has been netting consistently over in Weston-Super-Mare for the Robins Under-23s side throughout the campaign.
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He met with the media following the game and expressed his emotion at what he’d achieved.
“I’m very proud to make my Bristol City debut, as a local lad,” he smiled. “A little scuff but I’ll take it!
“I’ve had to wait patiently for this moment. It’s been a tough road for me, just over two years ago I was doing painting and decorating with my Dad whilst playing non-league for Mangotsfield United. It’s been a great two years.”
Congratulations to Louis!