Billy Sharp’s stoppage time equaliser earned Saints a draw against the Robins
The forward’s fifth goal of pre-season arrived with Nigel Adkins’ men trailing to Jon Stead’s first half strike.
Ashton Gate hasn’t been much of a happy hunting ground for Saints in recent seasons, and there was relief all round when the late pressure from the visitors paid off against a City side who provided stubborn resistance to the threat of the visitors.
Rickie Lambert's placed header landed perfectly towards the far post as play entered added on time for his strike partner who had been on the field less than ten minutes, to gleefully sweep home in front of the travelling support.
Bristol C: Gerken, Foster, Fontaine, Nyatanga, Bolasie (Woolford 60), Cunningham (M.Wilson 60), Skuse, Pearson, Morris (Edwards 80), Adomah (Anderson 84), Stead (Taylor 74). Subs (not used): Heaton, Pitman, J. Wilson, Reid, Bryan, Amadi-Holloway.
Saints: K. Davis, Clyne, Fonte, Hooiveld (Seaborne 76), Fox (Richardson 46), Ward-Prowse (Cork 46) (Sharp 82), Schneiderlin (S. Davis 46) Lallana (Guly 60), Puncheon, Rodriguez, Lambert. Subs (not used): Gazzaniga, Hammond, Chambers, Chaplow, De Ridder.
Referee: Brendan Malone
Attendance: 2,605 (including 402 away)
Kelvin Davis, Jose Fonte, Rickie Lambert, James Ward-Prowse, and Morgan Schneiderlin all returned to the Saints starting line-up for the penultimate fixture of pre-season.
In a 4-3-3 formation, Jason Puncheon joined Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert in attack. Jack Cork was also in the squad for the first time since his return from representing Team GB at the 2012 Olympics.
The visitors playing in their changed colours of yellow and blue got the match underway on a dry and mild evening at Ashton Gate attacking the Atyeo Stand.
Saints made a strong start to the game, moving the ball around with purpose as they attacked down the left side.
Jay Rodriguez in particular was busy linking up with Lallana on numerous occasions inside the opening ten minutes. The striker, playing wide left cut in and saw his first effort saved, before firing over after collecting the midfielder’s pass inside the area.
Lallana got his first sight of goal soon after, but he blazed wide from a central position. Moments later, Cole Skuse brought down the midfielder as he tried to kick start another move from deep.
James Ward-Prowse was the first to warm City ‘keeper Dean Gerken’s hands as he struck a low shot from Schneiderlin’s tee up to win a corner.
The match settled into a more balanced pattern as the hosts came into the contest. Robins’ defender Richard Foster’s menacing run down the right saw him get the better of Danny Fox, but fortunately for Adkins’ side there was no end product from the full back.
Saints went back on the attack and had the ball in the back of the net when Fox pounced to get on the end of a loose ball in the area, but the assistant on the far side had his flag up long before the Scotsman had back-heeled an effort into the net.
The visitors switched their attention to the right flank where Nathaniel Clyne and Puncheon combined to find Lambert in the area, but the striker couldn’t get his shot away.
However, it was the hosts that broke the deadlock on 36 minutes when Albert Adomah laid the ball into the path of Jon STEAD who finished with a curling left footed effort from the edge of the box to make it 1-0.
Adkins’ men responded with Rodriguez taking aim at Gerken, but it was the home side who nearly doubled their advantage when Adomah again got into the box to pose a question to the Saints defence, but Clyne was there to clear.
Adomah tested Davis from range before the end of the half as the visitors went into the break chasing a deficit.
Half Time: Bristol City 1-0 Saints
Saints made three changes at the break as Steven Davis, Frazer Richardson and Jack Cork all came on in place of Fox, Schneiderlin, and Ward-Prowse.
The treble switch saw Clyne move across to the left in order to accommodate Richardson in his natural right back slot.
Richardson won a corner as the visitors started the second period by pressing down the right side, with Puncheon and Lallana also offering a threat early on.
On the other flank, Clyne was hauled down just outside the area which provided Lambert with an opportunity to strike at goal, but the frontman’s effort was blocked by a red shirt and cleared before Gerken could even react to the shot.
Lambert almost turned provider for Puncheon as the forward pulled wide to deliver a dangerous looking cross which was intercepted by Liam Fontaine.
Both sides made change on the hour mark with Guly replacing Lallana, whilst Mark Wilson and Martyn Woolford came on in place of Bolasie and Cunningham.
The hosts could have almost put the game out of Saints’ reach on 70 when Stead unselfishly laid the ball into Woolford’s path, but the substitute hit his low shot straight at Davis, who smothered the effort.
Rodriguez poked Richardson’s angled cross wide before City made their third change of the match with Ryan Taylor replacing Jon Stead as play entered the last quarter. Dan Seaborne replaced Hooiveld on 76 as Saints made their fifth substitution of the night.
Cork received treatment whilst the hosts made another change with much travelled midfielder Jody Morris being replaced by Joe Edwards. The knock sustained by Cork eventually forced the midfielder off, with Billy Sharp replacing him inside the last ten minutes.
Paul Anderson made a late appearance from the bench to replace Adomah as the chances for both sides began to dry up.
The visitors’ night was seemingly summed up by their last attack of the 90 when Guly’s thumping drive was pushed out to Puncheon whose shot back across goal was eventually scrambled out to the right but just too far in front of Sharp as he clambered to meet it.
But Saints managed to dig deep for a leveller deep into stoppage time when Fonte’s diagonal ball into the area was headed back across by Lambert kindly into the path of SHARP who knocked home at the far post to record a share of the spoils.
Full Time: Bristol City 1-1 Saints