Rob Dickie’s second half goal proved vital as Bristol City narrowly defeated EFL Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday at Ashton Gate.
City started the match well, and were given an early boost when Barry Bannan was dismissed after he denied Jason Knight a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The visitors stuck to their task and came close through Anthony Musaba and Dominic Iorfa, but City nudged in front with half an hour to play.
Tommy Conway made a yard of space and fizzed a cross into the goalmouth. The ball took a knick off Iorfa before Dickie stuck out a right leg to divert home from close range.
City move up to 10th place in the table, and face a trip to QPR next weekend in their final match before the international break.
The Robins were eager to make a fast start after their 2-0 defeat to local rivals Cardiff City last time out and were almost ahead when Conway was put through by George Tanner.
The Scot took a touch past Di’Shon Bernard and fired a venomous effort narrowly wide of the post. Knight followed suit moments later, but his bending effort was well held by Cameron Dawson.
City continued to look the most likely in the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t force any clear openings on goal, and Danny Rohl’s side reminded the hosts of their own threat when Wednesday got in between the lines of City’s midfield and crafted a big opportunity.
Musaba found Reece James out wide and carried on his run, James crossed back to the attacker who saw his header fly onto the roof of the net.
The league strugglers game plan was evident and they wasted another chance to opening the scoring minutes after.
Djeidi Gassama drove through the City half and twisted and turned past Dickie, but just as he was about to pull the trigger from close range, Taylor Gardner-Hickman came flying in with a goal-saving challenge.
The visitors were made to rue their missed chances when on the half hour mark, the game became far trickier for them.
Knight stole the ball deep in Wednesday’s half, and with just Dawson to beat, the midfielder was tripped by Bannan, who saw red.
Conway’s free kick was blocked by the away wall, and Tanner’s prodded effort from the rebound looked destined to end up in the net, but a late hand from the goalkeeper kept the scores level at the break.
Rohl made two changes at the break, and though the visitors would’ve taken a point if they were offered it at halftime, they almost went in front early in the second period.
Iorfa rose highest of all and fired a powerful header towards goal, the effort looked set to nestle home but Max O’Leary reacted swiftly to punch clear.
City hit back with a spell of attacking pressure, but the visiting defence looked relatively comfortable in truth.
Curtis Fleming made a triple change on the hour mark to try and force the issue, and moments later, City took the lead. Gardner-Hickman’s corner was cleared to Mark Sykes, who played the ball to Conway. The striker made a yard and fired a low cross into the goalmouth, where Dickie prodded out a leg to convert home.
The goal meant City could keep the ball and try and draw their opponents onto them to create space, and as a few more pockets opened in and around the Owls defence, the Robins came within centimetres of doubling their lead twice in a matter of seconds.
Conway’s initial effort bounced painfully off Dawson’s right-hand post before Sam Bell’s scuff from the rebound came off the opposite post.
The Owls were down, but not out, and almost found a late leveller. Will Vaulks’ free kick was touched on by Ashley Fletcher from point blank range, and O’Leary’s reactions were razor sharp to claw the effort away, as well as the rebound.
Dawson was sent up for a corner in the dying seconds which was cleared, but Conway couldn’t slot into an empty Owls net, and City took all three points.