TOWN might well have taken a point beforehand.
But in the event, it was a big disappointment to miss out on all three at Ashton Gate.
Just two minutes of normal time remained when Bristol City, who had been reduced to 10 men, cancelled out Gary Taylor-Fletcher's 52nd-minute opener.
And even after that setback, Town could still have won it.
After a slightly shaky opening five minutes, Peter Jackson's industrious team had by far the better of the game, and created more chances than their play-off chasing hosts.
About the only disappointing aspect of their display was that Town failed to finish clinically.
When they did break through, it was with a cracking goal.
Picking up Andy Holdsworth's header just outside the penalty box, Taylor-Fletcher weaved his way past four opponents before slotting a shot to goalkeeper Adrian Basso's right.
It was his 11th goal of the season, and a real beauty, and Town could have been two up after 63 minutes.
Andy Booth freed fellow frontman Luke Beckett, whose lob looked destined for the net until Brazilian Basso, already well out of his area, stretched out a hand to block.
Berkshire referee Paul Armstrong had no hesitation in reaching for the red card, leaving City a man down.
Left-back Jamie McAllister made way for substitute stopper Chris Weale, and while Bristol briefly rallied, with Lee Johnson bringing a fine 69th-minute save from Matt Glennon, Town seemed to have successfully shut up shop.
That was until Johnson, the son of Bristol boss Gary, gained possession 20 yards out and hit a speculative shot which took a deflection to deceive Glennon and squeeze just inside his left-hand post.
It was cruel on Town, but they rallied to finish the stronger, with Booth putting two headers just off target and Danny Schofield bringing a diving save from Weale before brushing the outside of the keeper's left-hand post with an angled shot.
Bristol had begun the stronger, with big striker Enoch Showunmi making Glennon earn his corn with a firm third-minute header.
But Town, with on-loan duo Frank Sinclair and Andy Taylor making solid debuts, warmed to their task.
Taylor-Fletcher's seventh-minute shot, after good work by Schofield, was held, before Schofield brought a save from Basso after 13 minutes.
Booth couldn't quite get his foot to the loose ball when Basso could only parry a 20th-minute Taylor-Fletcher strike, then Schofield and Taylor-Fletcher had shots blocked.
The best Bristol could offer before the break was a decent 29th-minute pass from Cole Skuse to Murray, who couldn't beat Glennon's smothering lunge, and a 42nd-minute header by Kevin Betsy which rolled just wide of the keeper's right-hand post.
Fears that Bristol would come out for the second half firing on all cylinders were ended when Town went ahead, then continued to take the game to the home side.
Michael Collins fired in a low shot which Basso fumbled for a corner and Booth had a header cleared before the keeper saw red.
His replacement Weale was kept busy, and did well to deny Beckett when the Town man turned neatly onto a Taylor-Fletcher pass.
Then, on 83 minutes, Taylor freed Young, only for the midfielder to be halted by Jamie McCombe's tackle.
Town were left to rue those misses when Johnson levelled, but there were plenty of positives as Jackson's men made it five matches unbeaten.
The moment in the 88th minute when Luke Beckett (left), struggling to keep his feet on the sticky surface, was unable to prevent the ball going out of play near the Town dug-out. From the throw-in, it found its way to midfielder Lee Johnson, whose hopeful shot took a deflection and beat Matt Glennon's dive.
How they rated:
Matt Glennon Pulled off some fine saves before finally being beaten by a deflected shot. Unlucky to concede. Rating: 7/10
Andy Holdsworth Did a solid containing job on Barnsley old boy Kevin Betsy and got forward as much as possible. Rating: 7/10
Andy Taylor On-loan Blackburn man took a little while to settle but warmed to the task and finished the game strongly. Rating: 7/10
Frank Sinclair Slotted in well after his arrival on loan from Burnley and looked to have a genuine touch of quality. Rating: 8/10
David Mirfin Combined well with new teammate Sinclair and has become one of Town's most consistent operators this season. Rating: 8/10
Gary T-Fletcher Once again impressed in a central midfield role. Worked hard, tackled well and scored a superb goal Rating: 8/10
Michael Collins Played fairly deep so was more of an enforcer than a creator. Contributed well to a good midfield show. Rating: 7/10
Matty Young Seemed to pop up all over the pitch. Ran himself into the ground in the course of a highly enthusiastic display. Rating: 7/10
Danny Schofield Produced the most dangerous crosses of any Town player. At times, ran Bristol ragged. Rating: 8/10
Andy Booth It wasn't for the want of trying, but will have been disappointed not to have scored, even if chances were limited. Rating: 7/10
Luke Beckett Not his liveliest display, but the lob which led to goalkeeper Basso's dismissal was certainly bound for the net. Rating: 7/10
Spotlight on the ref:
Berkshire whistler Paul Armstrong had a good game. Nobody could argue with Bristol keeper Basso's red card, nor the yellows for home pair Orr and McAllister and Town trio Holdsworth, Young (both fouls) and Schofield (kicking the ball away). Kept things flowing and always looked to be in control of proceedings.
Bristol City: Basso, Orr, Carey, McCombe (Jamie), McAllister (Weale, 65mins), Murray, Skuse, Johnson, Betsy, Showunmi (Andrews, 46mins), Jevons (Wilson (B), 73mins). Subs Not Used: Keogh, Russell. Sent off: Basso. Cautions: Orr, McAllister.