There was an air of giddiness around Ashton Gate before Saturday's match with Burnley. Newly promoted Bristol City were lying in second place in the Championship; the pop-star girlfriend of their new signing was beaming in the stand; and local band The Wurzels were on the pitch promoting a new version of the Bristol City anthem, "One for the City".
Nearly two hours later, as injury time approached, very little had changed. With their side winning 2-1, the Bristol City supporters sang "One for the City" in anticipation of a victory which would have kept their side in second place. In the dugout, even the manager Gary Johnson appeared to be clapping along with his supporters. Moments later, Burnley equalised with an overhead kick from the centre-back Clarke Carlisle and the fans lost their voice.
Johnson held on to his, however, and kept his players standing in the centre circle for a post-match debriefing as departing supporters and even some Burnley players looked on curiously. "I didn't want them to come off the pitch haggard and drawn and disappointed, because they were part of a great match," he said. "You can have such a big disappointment – which last-minute goals can be – that it can affect the rest of the season and I don't want it affecting ours, so I decided to nip it in the bud straight away."
One Bristol City player whose confidence will not have suffered is Darren Byfield. The striker, whose relationship with the singer Jamelia has won him more headlines than his playing career, came off the bench to head into the top corner with 10 minutes to go, which cancelled out Andy Gray's opener for Burnley.
Six minutes later, Byfield thought he had scored the winner when he tapped home a rebound from close range. But to his and City's dismay, the resolute Carlisle popped up acrobatically to score the equaliser to give Burnley a point which their manager, Steve Cotterill, said they did not deserve. Bristol City dropped in to the play-off positions, but are the only unbeaten team in the division. That should at least keep the excitement going for another week.
Goals: Gray (52) 0-1; Byfield (80) 1-1; Byfield (86) 2-1; Carlisle (90) 2-2.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Basso; Orr, Carey, Fontaine, McAllister; Wilson (Byfield, h-t), Johnson, M Elliott, McIndoe; Sproule (Vasko, 78), Trundle (Skuse, 88). Substitutes not used: Weale (gk), Murray.
Burnley (4-4-2): Kiraly; Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan; W Elliott, Alexander, McCann (Gudjonsson, 20), Lafferty (Spicer, h-t); Gray, Blake (Akinbiyi, 75). Substitutes not used: Jensen (gk), Unsworth.
Referee: M Thorpe (Suffolk).
Booked: Bristol City Trundle; Burnley Duff, Gray.
Man of the match: M Elliott.
Attendance: 14,079.Reuse content