Bristol City v Fulham: Cottagers to keep promotion push on track

Bristol City v Fulham
Saturday March 7, 12:30
Sky Sports

Bristol City stop the rot

Bristol City stopped the rot at Millwall last time out, ending a run of three straight defeats with a solid 1-1 draw at The Den. The Robins performance was much improved on the back of a harrowing effort against Huddersfield with Lee Johnson‘s men echoing the gritty, determined displays from January, restoring confidence in the club’s play-off ambitions.

City may have landed a solitary attempt on-target in the capital – the team’s static midfield and a stubborn lack of creativity in the final-third has been a constant source of frustration for supporters – but Johnson heralded the match and result as an important one, claiming the Robins now have a “baseline” performance to adhere to in the final 10 fixtures.

Under-fire Johnson made another six changes to his side last Saturday – City have now made the second-most changes to their starting XI in the Championship this season – although Kasey Palmer continues to be peculiarly left out of contention. The Robins are expected to shuffle their pack again as they meet Fulham in their 125-year birthday game.

Fulham overcome promotion rival

Fulham‘s character can help them succeed in their quest for Premier League status next season. That’s the verdict of boss Scott Parker after the Cottagers were forced to work hard to see off sixth-placed Preston 2-0 last weekend, with the visitors arriving in West London only four points behind the hosts before kick-off.

It was not a vintage performance from Fulham and there was a slice of good fortune surrounding the Cottagers’ opener as Preston striker David Nugent headed into his own net to break the deadlock in the 58th minute. And with the Lancashire side understandably desperate for a late leveller, substitute Abou Kamara ended the contest in stoppage time.

Preston created plenty at the Cottage and Parker will be keen for a more rounded display from his troops this weekend ahead of a testing March schedule. The Fulham chief said, “We need to embrace this expectation. If you want to be a top team you need something a bit different, to have character. We’re slowly getting there.” Defender Joe Bryan is injured.

Bristol City have enjoyed the upper-hand in recent matches with Fulham, taking top honours in five of the past seven skirmishes over the last four years across all competitions (W5-D1-L1). However, curiously you have to go back to 1990 when the duo were third-tier teams for the last time the Robins overcame the Cottagers at Ashton Gate (W0-D1-L3).

Only six sides have collected fewer points at home this season than Bristol City [3.17]. The Robins also boast the division’s third-worst home defence and head into Saturday’s showdown having returned W0-D2-L6 here against top-10 teams this term. Meanwhile, just three clubs are posting fewer shots, attempts on-target or Expected Goals (xG) in 2019/20.

Fulham [2.16] have taken top honours just twice in eight trips to teams in 13th and above (W2-D4-L2) and the Cottagers have struck more than a solitary goal only four times across their overall 17 away days. The Whites are well capable of competing with the Championship’s elite, although the visitors hold little appeal on the Match Odds.

Five of Bristol City’s past six Ashton Gate encounters have crossed the Over 2.5 Goals barrier with three of the top-four teams in the table scoring at least three goals in visits here. The Robins have failed to notch in five of seven showdowns when entertaining top-half clubs, whilst 10 of their overall 17 Championship guests have struck at least twice here.

In contrast, six of Fulham’s past seven away days fell below the standard goals line with four such contests featuring Under 1.5 Goals. The visitors have delivered Under 2.5 Goals in 12 (71%) of 17 road trips with matches averaging an unadventurous 2.06 per-game.

Therefore, I’ll take the happy medium option of keeping Fulham onside in a match featuring fewer than four goals. We can take 1.80 from the Same Game Multi market when combining Fulham Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals via the Betfair Sportsbook.