Albion travel to Bristol on Tuesday evening to take on the only side currently in the top six that they face between now and the end of the season.
The Baggies do face Derby County on the final day who could still be pushing for the top six, but Lee Johnson’s Robins are the highest placed side that Albion face in the run in and it will be another tough game as they seek to recover from the damaging defeat at Millwall.
With Jimmy Shan still in caretaker charge, he will need to prepare his side for what will be a very different but potentially more difficult test at Ashton Gate having failed at the New Den. When the clubs met at the Hawthorns in September, City could have been three up before Albion scored, but the Baggies eventually prevailed 4-2 thanks to an inspired performance by Harvey Barnes.
Barnes, of course, is no longer at Albion’s disposal and they will need to seek inspiration from elsewhere if they are to take the points on Tuesday evening.
Shan is sure to shuffle the pack after Saturday’s poor display, although he probably would have planned to do so anyway with the Baggies facing three games in a week. Hegazi will be suspended having picked up a red card in south London, and one hopes that Dawson will have recovered from his sickness bug in time to play. If not, we could be looking at a central defensive partnership of Adarabioyo and Bartley which will not inspire much confidence.
I would expect Gibbs to return to the starting line up and it is in midfield that I expect to see the most changes. It could be that Brunt, Livermore and Johansen are all switched out, although it depends on the fitness of Morrison and Barry as to whether that would be realistic. It would be a brave man to pick Harper, Edwards and Field in the middle of the park, but it would certainly excite some.
Bristol City propelled themselves into the play-offs with seven consecutive league victories starting with a 1-0 home win over Rotherham on 29th December. They also won twice in the FA Cup during that period but the 1-0 home defeat to Wolves in the fifth round sparked a mini-slump in their league form as they lost three of the next four although that did include defeats to Norwich and Leeds.
That run saw them drop out of the top six but back-to-back wins away the Sheffield United and Middlesbrough have pushed them back into the play-off spots. They are, however, on a run of five without a win at home having last tasted victory at Ashton Gate with a 2-1 win over QPR on 12th February.
Lee Johnson has got City playing attractive attacking football, but they also had their tribulations against relegation battlers on Saturday as Wigan Athletic grabbed a point at Ashton Gate with an injury time equaliser. Having also drawn at home to Ipswich Town in their previous home game, Albion will be hoping to prolong the Robins’ poor record on their own turf on Tuesday.
A win for the Baggies and the Millwall defeat will be forgotten – anything less, and the criticism of those in charge at the Hawthorns will heighten.
Tuesday evening’s game at Ashton Gate will be the 50th meeting between West Bromwich Albion and Bristol City with the Baggies having the better record with 20 wins to City’s 14. The Robins hold the edge on their own patch with 11 wins to Albion’s 7.
All but one of the Baggies’ 24 away games at Bristol City have been at Ashton Gate where they have played since 1904. The two clubs first met following Albion’s relegation to the second tier in 1901 with the game in Bristol taking place at their St John’s Lane ground. The visitors won 2-1 thanks to goals from Tommy Worton and Chippy Simmonds.
The first meeting at Ashton Gate was three years later in October 1904 when Albion found themselves back in the second tier. This time it was the home side who took the points with a 2-1 victory – Walter Jack scored for the Baggies but the Robins won with goals from Sammy Gilligan and Albert Fisher.
2-1 was also the scoreline for the first ever top flight meeting between the sides in Bristol in April 1977. Keith Fear scored from the spot for the hosts, but it was the visitors who prevailed thanks to an own goal from former Leeds legend, Norman Hunter, and a winner from David Cross.
There have not been too many high scoring encounters in this fixture, with only one game between the sides at Ashton Gate featuring more than four goals. On Boxing Day 1928, Stan Wood scored a brace for Albion with Jimmy Cookson also finding the net while the hosts responded with goals from Cecil Blakemore and Jimmy Dickie as the visitors won by the odd goal in five.
The Baggies’ biggest win at Ashton Gate was on 13th September 1998. Lee Hughes scored twice in the first half and James Quinn grabbed a third for the Baggies after the break. Julian Watts scored for the Robins but it only proved to be a consolation as Albion held on for a 3-1 win.
City’s biggest win over Albion was also by a 3-1 scoreline in their second top flight season. It was Boxing Day 1977 when Gerry Gow and Tom Ritchie (2) scored for the Robins – Bomber Brown found the net for Albion.
Albion’s most recent visit was in the FA Cup third round in 2016. After a 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns, a drab encounter at Ashton Gate was settled by a Salomón Rondón goal in the second half.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
18 Sep 2018 – League Championship
West Brom 4 (Rodriguez (2, 1 pen), Gayle, Barnes)
Bristol City 2 (Kelly, Diedhiou)
Last meeting at Bristol City
19 Jan 2016 – FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
Bristol City 0
West Brom 1 (Rondón)
Albion’s Record against Bristol City