TALKING POINT: Should Bristol City head coach Sean O'Driscoll have used his substitutes earlier or was he right to be cautious in goalless draw against Brighton?
Bristol City head coach Sean O’Driscoll admitted he was torn between twisting and sticking towards the end of Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion at Ashton Gate.
Given that his priority was to thwart one of the Championship’s best passing sides, the Midlander strung five players across midfield in a bid to frustrate the Seagulls and disrupt their supply lines.
However, that meant some of his more creative players were sacrificed on the altar of expediency and flying winger Albert Adomah, top-scorers Steven Davies and Sam Baldock and midfield play-makers Brian Howard and Neil Kilkenny were all named among the substitutes.
In the event, O’Driscoll’s team selection and tactics proved spot-on and a Brighton side that scored four against Huddersfield last Saturday, did not create a single clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity.
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Cole Skuse and Marvin Elliott in particular were instrumental in helping City control midfield and the home side were in the ascendancy for most of the second half.
No matter how welcome a second successive clean sheet might have been, there was nevertheless a feeling that the Robins could have taken all three points had they introduced their best attacking players earlier.
Understandably, O’Driscoll was reluctant to compromise his team’s shape in pursuit of a winning goal, fearing too many changes made too early could play into Brighton’s hands.
After all, the introduction of Adomah, Howard and Kilkenny against Barnsley in the last home game had coincided with the visitors scoring twice in a late fight-back.
In the end, he introduced Adomah with five minutes to go and then Baldock in the dying moments, allowing the pair precious little time to influence proceedings.
Given the continuing need for City to keep things tight at the back and render themselves hard to beat, it will be interesting to see what the head coach does when he comes to select a team to play Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate this Saturday.
City’s performance against Brighton was admirable in many respects, with the notable exception of in the final third where the absence of any real pace and guile prevented the Robins from breaking down opponents who were tested without being truly extended.
Should O’Driscoll change his team this weekend and start with a second striker to support the hard-working Jon Stead, or leave things as they are and keep his attacking forces in reserve on the bench?
If you were City manager, what would you do?