Aston Villa loanee Nathan Baker has debut to forget for Bristol City

The 24-year-old centre-back could not stop his side from falling to a 4-2 defeat at Birmingham City.

Bristol City fans got their first glimpse of Aston Villa loanee Nathan Baker in Saturday’s clash with Birmingham City, but their initial impressions will not have been positive.

The 24-year-old defender, who joined the Championship club on deadline day until the end of the season, started the game at St Andrew’s on the left-hand side of a three-man backline but proceeded to have a nightmare debut as Steve Cotterill’s men fell to a 4-2 defeat.

A Clayton Donaldson double had the home side 2-0 up after only 10 minutes, before the striker completed a first-half hat-trick from the spot just before the break after Aaron Wilbraham brought down Jon Toral in the box.

The Robins had earlier got a goal back through Jonathan Kodjia, who struck again in the 66th-minute to make it 3-2 after Cotterill had brought Baker’s fellow Villa loanee Callum Robinson off the bench three minutes earlier in order give his side an injection of pace.

However, there was no dramatic comeback in the end, as Jonathan Grounds’ header 13 minutes from time ensured Birmingham all three points and consigned their opponents to a fourth defeat in six outings this season.

Donaldson’s penalty was described as the turning point by Bristol boss Cotterill after the match, although he was not convinced that Toral had been fouled.

“We’re disappointed with the decisions against us today. No matter how many times you look at it, it’s never a penalty in a million years,” he told the club’s official website. “The linesman is there and he’s looking at it, but he jogs back off because he knows it’s going to be a goal kick. It’s a dreadful decision and it’s a game changing decision.”

Cotterill was not best pleased with his side’s defensive performance either, though, adding: “We’ve given away a couple of sloppy goals and we know that. It’s been a bit of a problem for us that we need to put right.”

 Vs Birmingham Outfield BlocksTotal TacklesTotal ClearancesHeaders WonHeaders LostInterceptionsTotal PassesPassing AccuracyMins Played
Nathan Baker 2 0 3 2 2 1 40 75% 90

Baker will certainly want to put his Bristol bow behind him then, but he should have plenty more opportunities to prove his worth over the course of the season – if he can keep off the treatment table.

The Villa academy graduate, who signed a new four-year deal at the club earlier this summer, has seen injuries hamper his progress with the claret and blues over the past few campaigns and manager Tim Sherwood is hoping that regular minutes in the Championship can help him overcome his fitness problems.

“It’s not as if we pushed him out the door,” Sherwood told the club’s official website earlier this week. "We want him to tick that durability box of playing games. If he can go to Bristol City and churn out 30 plus games, he will tick that box. He's a player for the future of this club."

Should Baker stay in City’s line-up for Tuesday night’s trip to fellow Championship new boys Preston North End, it will be the first time since last November that he will have started consecutive games, having missed most of the 2014-15 season with reoccurring knee problems.

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