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Robins must find mental strength to deal with home pressures

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 12, 2012

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Bristol City manager Derek McInnes insists it is vital his players find the mental strength to deal with the pressure of playing at home if they are to move clear of relegation trouble in the npower Championship.

Although the Robins have undergone a revival in fortunes in recent weeks, by winning tough games away to promotion-chasing Middlesbrough and fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, their home form remains a major cause of concern.

Since trouncing Cardiff City 4-2 at Ashton Gate way back on August 25, City have failed to win any of their last eight home matches, taking just two points from a possible 24 on their own turf.

Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United, Burnley, Hull City, Charlton Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers have all won at Ashton Gate and, of the 18 points the Robins have accrued so far this season, ten of them have come on the road.

Not surprisingly, attendances have taken a downward turn and supporters, frustrated by poor results and performances, have taken to venting their anger against the players and their manager.

McInnes acknowledges the problem and is working hard to rectify it ahead of this Saturday's home encounter with Derby County.

If City suffered an adverse reaction when falling behind to Wolves at home earlier this month, their response to going 2-1 down at Hillsborough with 11 minutes left was completely different.

Without the tension transmitted by a home crowd, the Robins recovered from Gary Madine's 79th-minute strike to win 3-2 thanks to a Sam Baldock penalty and an Albert Adomah free-kick.

McInnes admitted: "If we had lost that second goal at home, there would have been a different feeling.

"I have to say this, because we have a home game next Saturday. If we lost a goal like that with ten minutes to go at Ashton Gate, it would be a problem.

"We found the circumstances difficult to deal with when we fell behind against Wolves and lacked the mental strength needed to respond in the right way. But, away from home, we found it easier to deal with. The players just got on with the job and it showed what can be done.

"The players have to be bigger than that [at Ashton Gate]. They have to learn to deal with the tension and the fans have to understand that, when we go a goal down and the team is still working hard, they need them to get behind them."

Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley meet at Oakwell on Saturday, and City are likely to need a point at least against Derby if they are to avoid dropping back into the relegation zone.

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