It wasn’t a classic and the fans were certainly not missing much by being absent from this one, but the Hornets kept the points tally ticking along this evening to ensure they are still bang in the mix for when, fingers crossed, they can return in some shape of form next month.
Vladimir Ivic’s visitors, who were without three unnamed players who have tested positive for coronavirus, tailed off in the second half as City forward Antoine Semenyo looked the most likely to make something happen.
This was football which deserved to be played behind closed doors. That old Shankly quip about closing the curtains if Everton were playing down the bottom of the garden. But there’s something lurking underneath that too, a sense of how football re-shapes itself when it isn’t so conscious of the public gaze. It’s hard to believe that Bristol City could be quite this cautious in front of a stadium full of their own supporters; unless the opposition is particularly illustrious, and sometimes even then, home fans tend to want to see their team do more than line up in defensive banks. They don’t touch the ball for the first two minutes, content to get their shape and sit tight. In real life, you just can’t do that without a rising restlessness in the stands.