Bristol City chalked up their third straight Championship victory – and their first on the road under boss Liam Manning – with a 4-1 win at Watford.
Manning, who arrived from Oxford last month, plotted a shock win at Vicarage Road as the Robins’ midfield press choked the life out of the in-form Hornets.
The hosts just could not stop losing the ball in midfield and Manning’s men cashed in with a strike from Cameron Pring and an own goal from Wesley Hoedt to lead at the break.
Watford hit back through Giorgi Chakvetadze four minutes into the second half, but Mark Sykes and substitute Andreas Weimann killed off the Hornets.
City had kept Watford quiet during the opening stages, and the visitors were first to threaten with a Rob Dickie header.
That stung the Hornets into action, and a minute later Ismael Kone fired over the top from Ken Sema’s cross.
City’s next escape had a touch of good fortune about it.
Sema’s free-kick from the right was not cleared properly, and it fell to Yaser Asprilla. The Colombian fired in a thunderbolt that thudded into Robins goalkeeper Max O’Leary, who did not look as if he knew much about it.
City regained control – and the visitors took the lead two minutes later thanks to a poor piece of defending.
Taylor Gardner-Hickman’s free-kick floated high into the Watford box and Edo Kayembe’s attempt at a headed clearance fell to City left-back Pring, who guided a low right-foot shot past Ben Hamer.
Watford just could not shake off City’s grip in midfield, where the home side were losing possession far too often.
Yet another turnover led to City’s second goal two minutes into first-half added time.
Anis Mehmeti sent Tommy Conway sprinting away down the left, and his cross was turned into the net for an own goal by Hornets skipper Hoedt, although there seemed to be no reason for him to intervene, with no City player in the goalmouth.
The second half exploded into action. Watford narrowed the lead four minutes in as Kayembe’s pass from midfield sent Asprilla away on the right and he set up half-time substitute Chakvetadze to fire past O’Leary.
City responded from the restart. Watford were caught in possession again, Conway set up Mehmeti for a shot from the left, Hamer dived low to push the ball away, and Sykes was waiting to score from close in.
When Watford could get hold of the ball and threaten the City goal, Matheus Martins, Mileta Rajovic, Rhys Healey and Francisco Sierralta were all off target.
Yet another midfield giveaway by Watford handed City their fourth. Joe Williams sent Weimann down the left, and with the home side waiting in vain for an offside flag, the Austrian rifled the ball past Hamer in the 83rd minute to score against his former team.
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