SOLO GOAL: Piroe finish extends winless home run for Bristol
Joel Piroe’s first-half solo goal gave Swansea a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
The striker, making his first Championship start, broke from midfield on 19 minutes and fired against a post, the ball rebounding back for him to net confidently at the second attempt from just inside the box.
It was enough to give Russell Martin his first three-point haul as Swansea manager and meant nine games without a home win for Bristol boss Nigel Pearson.
Busy referee Geoff Eltringham booked 10 players – six from Swansea – in what was a heated contest at times.
A draw might have been a fairer result on the balance of play, but that did not worry a large contingent of Swans fans who celebrated wildly at the final whistle.
Pearson made one change from the team who won 3-2 at Reading in midweek, Han-Noah Massengo replacing Andy King in midfield.
With Ben Cabango and Flynn Downes having tested positive for Covid-19, Swansea boss Martin gave first league starts to Piroe and Ethan Laird.
A fast Bristol start saw them create three chances in the opening four minutes, starting with Cameron Pring’s header across goal which found no takers.
Seconds later Swansea failed to deal with Bristol’s press and Matty James had a low shot saved before Chris Martin somehow shot wide from inside the six-yard box.
James had an 18th-minute shot saved and moments later a better one from distance, also dealt with by Steven Benda.
Piroe’s goal came from Swansea’s first penetrating attack and sent their travelling fans behind the other goal into raptures.
Bristol almost replied on 28 minutes when Pring’s pass set up teenager Alex Scott, whose low shot was well saved by Benda.
Piroe might have had two more goals before the break. First he shot wide, having got behind the home defence, and then had a close-range shot brilliantly saved by Dan Bentley.
An even first half ended with another spell of Bristol pressure. They also began the second period on the front foot, Andreas Weimann firing over.
Weimann looked fortunate to escape with a yellow card on 58 minutes for kicking Brandon Cooper, who he claimed was holding him.
As Bristol stepped up the pressure, the influential James had another shot deflected into the arms of Benda. Weimann found the net on 75 minutes but was clearly offside.
Both sides could have scored in an exciting finale, former Bristol player Jamie Paterson shooting wide for Swansea and Weimann off target with a header.
Bristol gave everything to break their home jinx but have not won at Ashton Gate since January.
Martin’s men had to defend for their lives at the end and did just that to kick-start their season.
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