Bristol City continued their good form with a 2-0 win over Southampton at Ashton Gate. The result stretches City’s unbeaten run to 9 games, while the Saints plunge further into relegation trouble.
Bradley Orr had a great chance to give City a first half lead from the penalty spot, after Czech defender Rudi Skacel was adjudged to have fouled Nicky Maynard. However, Kelvin Davis saved the resulting spot kick.
The away side went close on a couple of occasions too, with both Jason Euell and Morgan Schneiderlin hitting the woodwork.
Saints were made to rue their missed chances, as Dele Adebola latched onto Gavin Williams’ pass before confidently slotting the ball into the back of the net.
Jason Euell missed a guilt edged chance to get his side back into the game, missing from just six yards out, but Sproule put the game beyond doubt after scoring from an injury time counter attack.
It was City who came out the blocks flying, with Williams testing Davis twice inside the first 5 minutes, with some good long-range efforts.
Saints’ Head Coach Mark Wotte has promised to place a greater emphasis on experienced players as Saints fight to stay in the division, recalling both Jason Euell and Rudi Skacel to his starting eleven for this game.
But it was Skacel who was guilty of over-eagerness when he hauled down Nicky Maynard in the area to concede a penalty on 14 minutes.
Full back Orr stepped up to take the spot-kick, but the tame effort was easily saved by Davis.
Despite the setback, Gary Johnson’s side kept up their momentum as livewire striker Maynard turned his man all too easily before dragging his shot wide.
Saints successfully weathered the storm, and almost took the lead themselves after a free-flowing counter attack put French midfielder Schneiderlin through on goal. Unfortunately for Saints’ fans, the 19-year-old hit the post and the game remained goalless.
The deadlock was finally broken after targetman Adebola caught the Saints’ defence napping as he latched onto a Williams’ lofted throughball before slotting past Davis to make it 1-0.
Saints’ refused to throw in the towel, and once again hit the woodwork after Euell’s 25-yard strike came back off the upright and he couldn’t keep the follow-up down.
Wotte’s Saints came out for the second half looking fired up and they were a shadow of the team who were dominated for much of the first half, and it was veteran Euell who should have equalised.
Substitute Kayne McLaggon drew a good save from City keeper Adriano Basso, and when Adam Lallana’s cross found Euell six yards out, the former Middlesbrough forward looked odds on to score, but could only scuff his shot wide, much to the disbelief of the travelling Saints’ fans.
And the Saints were cruelly punished late on, as the pacey Sproule ran the length of the pitch to tap into an empty net, as Davis was up the other end trying to make his presence felt in the box from a Surman corner.
Bristol City team:
Basso, Orr, Fontaine, Carey, McAllister, McIndoe (Sproule, 60), Skuse, Johnson, Williams (Iriekpen, 91), Adebola (Styvar, 72), Maynard.
Subs not used: Murray, Henderson
Davis, James, Saeijs, Perry, Skacel, Euell, Wotton (Gillett, 83), Schneiderlin (Lallana, 65), Surman, Saganowski (McLaggon, 69), McGoldrick.
Subs not used: Forecast, Liptak.