PREVIEW: City v Bristol C

Irvine J

And so another season ends. If it feels it’s going to end limply with a dead rubber, let’s see the positives in that. At times this season, just taking our bid to stay in the Championship to the final day would have seemed acceptable; to have had safety assured months ago and even have the luxury of looking at the top six reminds us how successful this season.

So, if it’s all a little tepid tomorrow, consider the alternative: a sleepless night beforehand, and a gutwrenching afternoon praying for a successful outcome. That may be the Bristolians’ fate though: their midweek win at Millwall gives them a faint chance of making the top six. It’s unlikely though. Currently eighth and two points off sixth, they need to win, hope that Middlesbrough don’t win at relegated Rotherham and hope Derby lose at home to West Brom. A fairly improbable set results, and how they must be ruing the recent loss of form that took them out of the top six.

But at least we know they’ll start the game at full pelt; and we recently saw against Sheffield United how bad City can be against a side that needs something. Not for nothing are the visitors favourites for this game.

No meeting between the sides can ever pass without mention of THAT fixture in 2008, of course. It sent City off towards a decade of being in or around the Premier League, while poor old Bristol haven’t been close since. They were gracious losers despite the most painful of losses, and while there’s no need to feel sorry enough for them to want them to win tomorrow, they’d be the ideal play-off winners this season.

More recently, City lost at Ashton Gate in October, back when we looked doomed, and remarkably shared ten goals a few months earlier. We haven’t beaten them since a 2-1 win in the south-west formed part of our run to the semi-final of the 2016/17 League Cup.

City will be waiting on the fitness of Markus Henriksen and Reece Burke, the latter having missed the 2-2 draw at Swansea last week and former having been a doubt for it. However, guessing City’s exact XI isn’t easy as Nigel Adkins has used the end of season dead rubbers to give first team experience to the youth team players he’ll probably have to use next season.

Bristol will be without Korey Smith following recent foot surgery, Callum O’Dowda has a knee injury while Antoine Semenyo is banned.

City are 2/1 to win just their second end-of-regular-season League game in 15 years, while the visitors are no longer than 7/5. They are 16/1 for a top-six finish and 66/1 to be promoted – clearly the odds are massively against them, but at least they have a chance of extending their season. For City, it matters not, so let’s sit back and enjoy our last look at this impressive, overachieving class of 2019 before the usual summer carnage is visited upon it.