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The boys done good, the girls done better The seasons turn and we're still together The sky is still blue and tomorrow is another day.

Then the boys did even better at Ashton Gate.

A cracking win the sunshine, a real battling performance and the early emergence of a new strike partnership. Two for Simms and a winner for Stewart… 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2, a real humdinger of a game.

After the sort of satisfaction of an opening day point, and the euphoria of the England Lasses’ victory (and let’s not forget the big part Sunderland Women played in the growth of that team), we were up at daft o’clock to head south west. That feeling was tempered somewhat by the news about John Hughes. He might have played just the once for the Lads, and most of that on one leg due to the injury that meant it was also his last game as a professional but he was one of us. Billy’s big brother Yogi had a stellar career at Celtic in the 60s before heading to Palace and then Roker. But for that career-ending injury, in early 1973, there’d have been no Vic Halom, and who knows how that season would have panned out. Sad news indeed.

It’s amazing (not really, we should be used to it by now) how one game can set such disparate opinions ablaze. From “this team’s got relegation written all over it” to “promotion is the aim”, they were all over the various platforms. It’s early days, so let’s see how we go, eh? There’s still a month to go before the window closes, which makes a mockery of the whole fenestration situation - either close it before the season starts or do away with it altogether.

That not-so-early start had us aboard at half six, wondering if we’d see a repeat of Bristanbul. The point, I’d take. The gloom of half-time, I could do without.


Gooch Ballard Batth Cirkin

Evans Neil

Clarke Pritchard

Stewart Simms

Is 4-2-2-2 an acceptable formation? It'll have to be today as the gaffer went for added muscle up front... and it worked.

We kicked off and attacked the far end in the sunshine and blue shirts as Stewart's boisterous challenge on the edge of the home box saw the ball roll to Simms, who moved toward the centre and whacked it low to the keeper's right from a yard outside the box. Four minutes in, that's a canny start.

An easy equaliser came five later as Bristol came in from our left, giving Patto no chance as it was fired low to his right from near the penalty spot. They had another chance soon after but fired across Patto from their left and well wide. Their right wing was certainly making Cirkin and Clarke earn their defensive corn.

We won a corner on 18 on the right, which Pritch slung in to win another on the left as we looked to regain the lead. There was a yellow for Cirkin for a fairly innocuous tangle as we cleared, earning the ref a deserved barrage of abuse. A late one on Neil brought no card but a free 30 yards from their goal on 23 and we once again questioned the ref's origins and eyesight.

Thankfully, they wasted it, and on 27 there was a yellow for a sneaky little kick on Clarke as we broke from defence after a "loose" Patto hoof. Just after the half hour Clarke clipped one off the line, then a clever ball set him away to win a corner on the left...and another. Gooch and Cirkin swapped sides for a while as we defended, then a free was awarded against Clarke despite their man being on the way down before Jack got anywhere near him. A brief interlude followed when Batth nutted Stewart as he headed clear from the edge of the box.

There was a sight of goal, but Simms booted a decent chance wide from the left side of the box on 44 as it wouldn't quite drop nicely enough, then another as Evans tried his luck from distance only for the keeper to be equal to his effort.

In the three added minutes we had two shots blocked as it came in from the left wing corner, and Neil's effort from distance hit another defender. I was quite happy with 1-1 as the home side had given us a couple of frights - but we'd done the same to them. The wide areas, particularly our left, were problematical for us, but we held them off with a combination of muscle and positioning.

No changes for the second half. A Pritchard free, following a foul on the dancing Clarke, ended up two seats from me after being headed away and volleyed (loosely) back. Five minutes in, Pritchard couldn't chase back fast enough as the ball ran along the line and when it was rolled into the middle it was an easy one for City. Damn - but undamn two minutes later when we broke down the right and Pritch fed Simms, who held off his marker and turned back inside to fire low into the net. Strength and precision personified. Woohoo!

We were on the up, most definitely, and after a big penalty shout on 61 when Simms was bundled over, then their keeper somehow kept out our new forward's shot. Positive play by Gooch - on the left again- won us another corner but that was mopped up as the home side took a deep breath. On 66 they replaced Sykes with Wilson and Vyner with Klose. But no cigar.

On 71: Clarke twazzled down the left and rolled it back to Pritch, who floated/curled a perfect cross onto the head of the LND, and there was only one place it was going from there - to the keeper's right and in. Brilliant goal, and a warning to Championship defenders that we have two good "UN's for them to worry about.

Some great defending from Batth broke up a dangerous City attack, and they responded by bringing on Conroy for Massenga.

On 80 Pritchard made way for Embleton, and young Elliott was straight into the action, driving forward from the middle of the park.

On 85 Clarke won a corner with a clever run into the box, and two minutes later made way for Alese as the boss packed the defence to protect our lead. There were five added as they took a free on the goal line - and Patto took the resultant corners dominantly. Well done bonny Lad.

We whizzed up the field and when the cross was partially cleared it fell to Gooch, whose blast was well saved at the near post.

Off went Simms for Dajaku as we wore the game down, and the final whistle was met with roars of joy from the 2352 travelling fans. A really good win that shows we're set up well for the coming season.

Man of the Match? Neil (D,) recovered from a bitty first half to ping about some lovely balls in the second, and Gooch for forward with purpose to add to his defensive solidity. Stewart worked as hard as ever he does and was rewarded with a lovely goal - set up by pesky Pritch. Simms - well, a two goal debut is pretty damn good. Clarke had the home defence increasingly tetchy, while Evans anchored the midfield nicely. The two big Lads in central defence were solid, as they should be. Pritch for me, I think, but our front two are very close behind.