There was always going be a great deal at stake when Coventry City travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow night - but all eyes will now be on Iain Dowie for more than one reason.

Dowie's departure from the managerial job at Selhurst Park went all the way to the courtroom in the summer but the Coventry City boss has a chance to chalk up an on-the-field victory over his nemesis Simon Jordan.

That would have been enough to make the encounter interesting, but now Coventry also need to put on a convincing performance if they are to keep up the appearance of serious promotion players.

This defeat may look emphatic, and in the end it was, but the scoreline does not tell the complete story.

It is rare to see a side so outplayed yet come in at the interval in front as Bristol did in this encounter but then Coventry should know all about the wily ways of Robins boss Gary Johnson.

He masterminded Bristol's FA Cup win at Coventry last season which led directly to Micky Adams' departure from the club, and once again he got it just about right.

Dowie made changes - some of them enforced - but must still be wondering how his side did not take something from the game.

Dele Adebola is in the richest form of his City career and in the first half he and Leon McKenzie, supported by the enterprising Ellery Cairo, made hay in the late summer sun but could not quite produce a harvest.

Louis Carey, who could not settle during a spell at Coventry under Adams, made it clear why he is so highly regarded in his native South-west as he and Liam Fontaine repelled the home side so ably. And when those two were beaten, keeper Adriano Basso was there to save the Bristol day.

The visitors - the only other unbeaten side in the division - did what all good sides should do away from home. They defended stoutly and then took the few chances that came their way.

Michael McIndoe, who joined the club after leaving Wolves in the summer, pounced when Elliott Ward made a hash of a simple clearance in the 15th minute and finished smartly from close range.

Still Coventry pressed and while the chances kept arising, their game became less convincing the longer the half progressed.

Everyone expected a second half whirlwind from the home side and while they huffed and puffed, and enjoyed a territorial advantage, it never quite materialized.

Their chances were all but snuffed out in the 74th minute when keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos failed to meet a cross with conviction and instead played a part in directing it into his own net.

Coventry, led by Arjan de Zeeuw for the first time this season, were clearly frustrated and it showed when all but a handful of players were involved in a melee which referee Phil Joslin totally failed to control.

The bust-up meant four minutes of additional time had to be played - allowing Darren Byfield to notch a late third.