PREVIEW: Barnsley v Bristol City
STEPHEN Pearson sees no reason why Bristol City should not continue their free-scoring form away from home this season.
In buoyant mood after scoring eight goals in two games against Crystal Palace and Cardiff City at Ashton Gate, the Robins head to Barnsley tomorrow intent upon translating home comforts into the valuable currency of points on the road.
Although City produced some truly memorable performances on the road last season, notably at Southampton, Nottingham Forest and West Ham United, goals were in generally short supply away from BS3 as the Robins fought to stave off the threat of relegation.
In the circumstances, manager Derek McInnes sought to render his team hard to beat, packing midfield and often going into action with just one striker.
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As a short-term safety-first measure, it proved sufficiently successful to pull City clear of the drop.
But the Scot has since transformed his staff, showing 11 players the door and recruiting a further seven to engineer a far more flexible squad.
Given the options at the manager's disposal now, former Celtic and Derby midfielder Pearson, pictured, believes City can be more adventurous away from home this season.
He said: "We now have a really strong squad with a lot of different options and there should be no reason why we cannot play the same away from home as we do at Ashton Gate.
"In an ideal world, the manager likes to play with two strikers up top and that has worked really well in the last two games here. I know there were reasons for going with one up top and packing midfield last season and there may still be games where we need to do that.
"But I would like to think we can go to Barnsley and carry on where we left off against Cardiff. We have played some attractive attacking football in the last two games and we want to approach the Barnsley game in the same way.
"Of course, it is not always easy to do it, but we will look to push forward as much as possible and impose our game on them from the start. We will go and try and ask questions of them."
McInnes favoured five in midfield because, all too often, opposition teams would play through the middle of City when they reverted to a more orthodox 4-4-2 shape last term.
But Pearson has formed a formidable central midfield partnership with Cole Skuse this season and the Robins more than matched Cardiff's five-man midfield last time out.
"I think the secret to that is sheer hard work," reflects Pearson, who capped a workaholic box-to-box performance with a well-taken goal to give City the lead against the Bluebirds. It helps that the wingers tuck in when we don't have the ball and work hard and the front men do their share as well. We always try to defend from the front and make life difficult for the opposition.
"If you can do that, then it helps provide you with the platform to get at the opposition, create chances and score goals."
Confidence may be high in the City dressing room right now, but Pearson insists he and his team-mates will not make the mistake of under-estimating a Barnsley side that has lost three games on the bounce and conceded 11 goals.
He added: "They are playing at home and they will want to put things right in front of their own fans. If we want to play attacking football, then we are going to have to earn the right to do so and that means working hard for one another."