Derek McInnes calls on Bristol City to be mentally stronger in home matches
BRISTOL City boss 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.
Although the Robins have undergone a revival in fortunes in recent weeks, winning tough games at promotion-chasing Middlesbrough and fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, their home form remains a major cause of concern.
Since beating Cardiff 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 in BS3.
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 this season, ten have come on the road.
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Not surprisingly, attendance has taken a downward turn and supporters have taken to venting their anger against the players and their manager.
McInnes, pictured, acknowledged the problem and is working hard to rectify it ahead of this Saturday's home npower Championship 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 Albert Adomah free-kick goal.
McInnes said: "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.
Given that Watford and Peterborough visit Ashton Gate within the space of four days over the Christmas period, it is vital City rediscover the art of picking up points at home.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones has said he will not step down from the post despite a run of seven consecutive Championship defeats.
Saturday's 3-2 home loss by fellow strugglers Bristol City has left the Owls four points adrift of safety.
"Pass the problem onto someone else? I'm a bigger person than that," said Jones.
"If a decision is made I can't have any choice in that, but I've never walked away from anything in my life."