Bristol City 4-1 Plymouth Argyle: Robins thrash poor Pilgrims in Championship

Bristol City took advantage of a much-changed Plymouth Argyle side to record a thumping Championship win at Ashton Gate.

Sam Bell stabbed home a short-corner routine after just 150 seconds for City before Matty James fired a second into the roof of the net soon after following some good Robins build-up play.

Adam Randell struck low from the edge of the box to pull a goal back for the Pilgrims against the run of play, but Mark Sykes punished some poor defending to restore the hosts' two-goal cushion shortly after.

Harry Cornick rounded off the win with a calm finish with 10 minutes left to inflict Argyle's biggest loss since they were thrashed 4-0 by Bolton in the Papa John's Trophy final at Wembley in early April.

The win lifts the Robins up to fifth in the table while newly-promoted Argyle drop to 16th as they continue to seek a first away win since coming up.

Argyle boss Steven Schumacher made seven alterations to the side that lost at Preston on Saturday - Championship top scorer Ryan Hardie and fellow first-choice forwards Bali Mumba and Morgan Whittaker were relegated to the bench while there were two changes apiece in midfield and defence.

But it was unchanged City who started brilliantly when a well-worked corner routine saw Bell stab the ball in at the near post as Kaine Kesler-Hayden tried unsuccessfully to keep it out.

A four-minute delay after issues with the goal-line technology did not knock the Robins out of their stride as a lowly flowing move saw James fire in from six yards as Conor Hazard could only palm Sykes' low cross into the path of the City skipper.

Hazard did well to save from Bell with his legs a minute later as a shell-shocked Argyle struggled to gain a foothold in the game before Tyreik Wright missed a good chance at the far post for the Pilgrims.

Sykes had a header go over and Cameron Pring volleyed wide from a corner as City continued to impress before Randell blasted into the bottom corner after the hosts failed to deal with a cross, to the joy of the 3,000-plus Argyle fans who made their shortest away trip of the season.

However, Sykes made it 3-1 after Knight's lofted ball from the left found the Republic of Ireland midfielder unmarked on the right and he calmly finished after running through on goal unchallenged.

Despite being second best, Argyle could have pulled another back before the break as Max O'Leary's poor clearance fell to Ben Waine, but the New Zealand striker flashed wide when he should have done better.

Argyle brought on Jordan Houghton and Whittaker at half-time and steadied the ship before Mumba and Hardie joined them with 30 minutes to go, but they failed to create any chances of note until late on.

Having seen Hayden Roberts go close for City, Cornick wrapped victory up soon after as Kal Naismith brought the ball out of defence before slipping in the substitute for just his second league goal for Nigel Pearson's side.

Hardie struck the post in the 88th minute after being put through and then saw Zak Vyner put in a superb last-ditch challenge to stop the Scot when he was through on goal two minutes later but the game had long been over.