Bristol City survived a late scare to move up to third in the Championship following a deserved 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate.
After a goalless first-half, Lee Johnson's side took control after the interval when Joe Bryan and Jamie Paterson breached Boro’s backline twice in quick succession.
The high-flying Robins, who have now scored 32 league goals, played with hunger and verve throughout the contest and looked a threat whenever they ventured forward.
In contrast, Boro struggled to break down the hosts’ well-drilled defence and only looked like salvaging something from the game when defender Hörður Björgvin Magnússon headed past his own goalkeeper with 15 minutes to play.
Problems at Boro
These are worrying times for Garry Monk and his team who, after spending over £40 million in the Summer, now sit six points off the play-offs in ninth place.
After blaming individual errors in the aftermath of a 3-0 defeat to Derby, Monk made three changes to his starting line-up, one of which was enforced following Daniel Ayala’s red card.
Dael Fry took the Spaniard’s place in defence, while Jonny Howson and Adama Traore also returned.
The hosts made two changes following their dramatic comeback at Hull City last Saturday.
Out went the injured Callum O'Dowda and striker Cauley Woodrow, as Jamie Patterson and Bryan came in.
Before kick-off, Boro had beaten just one of the sides in the top half of the table. Still, they started brightly when Adam Forshaw set up top scorer Britt Assombalonga, who blazed over the crossbar with six minutes gone.
Reid looking dangerous
That was the closest the visitors came in the early exchanges and once the game settled down, the Robins looked far more likely to break the deadlock.
Bobby Reid, who already has 10 goals to his name this campaign, was constantly creating space for his teammates with clever and subtle movements off the ball.
Boro were also contributing to their own downfall by overcommitting players when on the attack and regularly leaving themselves exposed at the back.
In the 20th minute, the visitors almost paid the price when Cyrus Christie lost possession on the halfway line, which allowed Bryan to charge forward with the ball and force a save from goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Suddenly, City were ripping Boro’s defence apart and, in the space of three minutes, midfielder Josh Brownhill almost converted an effort at the back post before Assombalonga cleared off the line following a goalmouth scramble.
Boro’s best chance came on the stroke of half-time when Downing drilled a shot straight at City keeper Frank Fielding, however the visitors quickly collapsed after the interval.
City make the breakthrough
City opened the scoring in the 51st minute when defender Bailey Wright whipped an inviting cross into the Boro box and Bryan prodded the ball home at the far post.
Three minutes later it was two, after Boro wasted a free-kick in a promising position and City broke forward in numbers.
After a swift counter attack, the ball arrived at the feet of Aden Flint on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area. The giant defender then picked out Patterson with a delicate chip, allowing the forward to hammer a shot through the legs of Randolph.
The hosts looked comfortable after that, until Magnússon gave Boro a lifeline when he headed Forshaw’s lofted pass into his own net.
Even so, it was too little too late and City held on.