PHIL Parkinson won’t have got much sleep this week – but you’d doubt in the wildest of his restless dreams this week he could have imagined such an encouraging start to life after Gary Madine.

Sammy Ameobi’s superb strike settled a game in which Wanderers proved the old adage that one player does not make a team.

The Whites boss had failed to win a league game in 22 months without his talismanic target man, who left for Cardiff City in a £6million deadline day deal and is yet to be replaced.

But at the first time of asking he got a performance of guts, honesty and – most importantly – quality from the players now tasked with keeping this grand old club in the Championship.

Those who watched on TV will have seen the Sky pundits dismiss Wanderers’ chances, and, to be honest, many of the fans spending their Friday night under the Macron lights were fearing the worst.

Everyone wondered how Parkinson would restructure his side in the light of Madine’s departure, and a complete makeover was perhaps asking too much given the proximity of the game.

In the end, the Whites boss reverted back to the three-man defence, so often the manager’s ‘go-to’ in his hour of need. What was different about this version, however, was that Sammy Ameobi was asked to play through the middle, alongside debutant Tyler Walker.

The result was an intriguing mix. Ameobi caused Bristol problems, one dazzling run ending in a fierce drive from 25 yards which skimmed the upright and had Luke Steele beaten all ends up.

Walker’s pace also earned him a glimpse off goal midway through the first half, getting the wrong side of Bailey Wright the Nottingham Forest loanee was denied by Steele at his near post.

Bristol failed to get their game going early on. Bobby Reid claimed a penalty after he challenged Ben Alnwick for a high ball and ended up on his backside, but ref Andrew Madley thought otherwise.

The Leeds official was also unmoved by a Bolton claim at the other end when Marlon Pack appeared to handle Ameobi’s bouncing long throw.

Wanderers looked a threat at set pieces with David Wheater and Dorian Dervite unlucky to see shots blocked at one corner before Karl Henry’s follow up was angled frustratingly wide.

Fantasy football it was not. But Parkinson will have been pleased the events of this week had not distracted his players from doing their job. As ever, effort was not in question.

One of the only downsides had been a frustrating tendency to give the ball away in midfield – something Derik Osede was guilty of more often than most. The former Real Madrid youngster was giving a most un-Spanish performance but it was a minor gripe, as there would not have been a supporter in the stadium who would not have gladly taken a stoic goalless score-line at the start of the game.

Without the towering presence of Madine up front Wanderers were forced to alter their approach, and though there was a certain amount of teething trouble, there were also times when Ameobi and Antonee Robinson’s exchanges were a joy to watch.

Bristol had offered little going forward but that changed 10 minutes after the break when Korey Smith surged forward and his cross was turned towards goal by Famara Diedhiou, who brought a smart save from Alnwick. Quick as a flash, Wheater then produced a goal-saving challenge at the feet of Reid to preserve the clean sheet.

If Wanderers needed a little spark then the supporters were in no doubt who could supply one. Zach Clough stepped off the bench to the adulation of the home supporters, still claiming him as “one of their own” 12 months after he left for Forest and the City Ground on deadline day.

The little man has lost none of his poise, but was upstaged with 20 minutes to go by his strike partner Ameobi.

Wanderers had been defending a corner when Derik cleared up to Ameobi just past half way. With runners left and right, an inviting gap opened up for the former Newcastle United man to run into and once his sweetly-drilled left-footed shot nestled into the bottom corner the Macron erupted in pure emotion.

No-one had seen this coming. Fans willed the Whites to hold on to their lead and with Wheater in imperious form at the back, it didn’t look in doubt.