A compelling encounter, which sent one side, albeit briefly, to the summit of the Championship and the other to its foot could give cause for rejoicing in the strength of this vibrant division. It certainly makes for an enthralling title race. But the Bristol City manager, Gary Johnson, knows his side may only get one shot at the Premier League and history suggests they must take it.
"I said to the boys that they're very lucky to be getting their bonus for being in the top two, and I might still take it away," said Johnson, only half in jest. "I just wanted to remind them that we need to produce more. Yes we've gone top, congratulations on that lads, but we've still got a lot to do to maintain our position."
West Bromwich Albion's evening 3-1 win at Hull soon dropped them to second, and City's goalscorer, Ivan Sproule, said: "We've let ourselves down. If we want to press on these are the games you have to get three points out of. A point at home isn't good enough."
Perhaps not, given their opponents' lowly status, but they could easily have taken one fewer. Once Kevin Lisbie had exploited some poor positional play by Tamas Vasko and Bradley Orr to put the visitors ahead on six minutes, both sides created enough chances to win handsomely. Having been denied a penalty of his own after 23 minutes, Sproule brought City level with a cut in from the left wing and low shot past Dean Gerken. Although City laid siege to the Colchester area late on, the visitors' defence, marshalled by their £350,000 signing from Luton, Chris Coyne, stood firm.
Colchester beat Charlton 2-1 away from home on New Year's Day and manager Geraint Williams said: "We've had two tough away games and got four points. That's just how close the Championship is." And, for Johnson, that could turn out to be just the problem.
Goals: Lisbie (6) 0-1; Sproule (33) 1-1.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Basso; Orr, Vasko, Fontaine, McAllister; McIndoe, Johnson, Elliott, Sproule; Byfield (Showunmi, 79), Trundle (McCombe, 89). Substitutes not used: Noble, Skuse, Weale.
Colchester United (4-4-2): Gerken (Cousins, 82); Ifil (Balogh, 89), Coyne, Virgo, White; Yeates, Gutteridge, Izzet, Jackson; Lisbie, Platt. Substitutes not used: Granville, Sheringham, McLeod.
Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).
Booked: Bristol City Sproule; Colchester Gutteridge.
Man of the match: Coyne.
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