Bristol City 2 Coventry City 1: Byfield's strike sends out early warning to Boro

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The Independent Online

Those watchers of the Championship expecting to see Bristol City's bubble burst are having a lengthy wait. Dele Adebola's excellent goal ensured a tense finish in which Coventry City might have salvaged a point, but Gary Johnson's side were not flattered by this sixth victory in eight games.

It was sufficient to take them level on points with the leaders, West Bromwich Albion, alongside Watford, and further into the dreamland that is their 2007-08 season.

Third in League One 12 months ago, they remain on the longest of "rolls" and at a level of intensity that makes a trip to Ashton Gate a challenging proposition these days. Middlesbrough, Saturday's FA Cup visitors, be warned.

"It's nice to be part of it at the top," Johnson said. "We had our hearts in our mouths on occasions, but I thought we saw the game out very professionally."

The manager confirmed his intention to recruit the Australia international Nick Carle from Turkish football within days, and the 500,000-rated midfielder will join a vibrant side.

Coventry had not kept a clean sheet in 12 games and were soon condemned to seeing the run stretched to 13. Darren Byfield has made a habit of scoring late this season, six of his previous seven goals including one on his debut at the Ricoh Arena in September having come as a substitute. Here, he netted inside five minutes, crashing home from 15 yards after Arjan De Zeeuw had blocked David Noble's shot.

Brian Wilson, and the manager's son Lee Johnson brought saves from Andy Marshall before the interval and the points looked safe when Marvin Elliott arced in a 68th-minute header after Jamie McCombe nodded on Jamie McAllister's corner.

Jay Tabb seemed at fault in failing to clear that one off the line, but the substitute then did much to rally Coventry. From his pass, Adebola controlled brilliantly to rifle home low for his fifth goal this season, then fed Leon Best, who rolled a shot against the post.

Best also sent a header off target and Coventry's manager, Iain Dowie, said: "We had chance after chance probably the best three or four of the game. We lost to a set piece and have to stop conceding outrageously sloppy goals."

Bristol City (4-4-1-1): Basso; Orr, Vasko, McCombe, McAllister; Sproule (Fontaine, 87) , Johnson, Elliott, Wilson; Noble (Showunmi, 79); Byfield (Trundle, 79). Substitutes not used: Murray, Weale (gk).

Coventry City (4-4-2): Marshall; Osbourne (Ward, h-t), De Zeeuw, Turner, Borrowdale; Simpson (Tabb, 61), Doyle, M Hughes, Mifsud (Thornton, 72); Best, Adebola. Substitutes not used: Davis, Simmonds.

Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).

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