It was a really big win.Maikel Kieftenbeld
The Dutch midfielder has played over 13,000 minutes since he arrived in the West Midlands in 2015 but has experienced limited game time this season having started just two Sky Bet Championship matches.
However, it came as no surprise to see him slot comfortably into Aitor Karanka’s 4-2-3-1 system at Ashton Gate, providing relentless energy and stability in the heart of midfield.
Last involved in mid-October’s clash with Bournemouth, Kieftenbeld returned with a win and was clearly thrilled to be back, but was also keen to deflect praise onto his teammates.
Speaking exclusively to BCFC.com he said: “I felt alright on the pitch, I think everybody did and that’s why we won. It was really good to be out there. It’s been a while and the last game [I played] against Bournemouth we lost, so it’s nice to finish with a win too.”
Although not involved on the field since the visit of the Cherries, the 30-year-old has been included in every matchday squad since, so was under no illusions how important the three points were in Bristol.
He said: “It was a really big win, especially after the draws and we lost against Barnsley, but we put a good performance in.”
Ahead of the game, a look at the form guide may have suggested that a Blues win was going to be hard to come by against the Robins, but Kieftenbeld knew that the team were more than capable of taking the three points.
He explained: “That’s a bit of the Championship I think, I’ve been here now for a while. If you’re not 100%, and that’s really difficult because the games are every three or four days so to be prepared every single game is hard, but if you’re not most of the time you will lose the game because the margins are really small. I think we wanted it more than Bristol and we showed that which is why we won.”
Despite Blues' second-half assault on Bristol City’s goal, it appeared that the winner might not come. However, Kieftenbeld remained confident that the breakthrough was on its way.
He said: “You just hoped we were going to score, but I thought if we just keep doing the same because I thought we were the much better team on the pitch. Sometimes you have to be lucky to score and we did that from a set-piece and a great header from Harlee [Dean]. That feeling straight after we made it 1-0, everybody was like let’s go for it and win this game.”
You can see if Blues can make it back-to-back wins on the road when they visit Reading on Wednesday. The full game is available to watch live on BluesTV.