LEROY ROSENIOR COLUMN: Bristol City's confidence is still high despite being at the bottom
WHO would have looked at the Championship fixture list ahead of Tuesday night's games and predicted that Bristol City would return to the foot of the table by the end of them?
For Barnsley to beat Brighton was an unbelievable result, while a point for Peterborough at Leeds was a similarly impressive return, which just goes to show that we are at that time of the season where the pressure of playing for things like winning promotion or avoiding relegation makes predicting results an almost pointless business. That City have returned to the bottom of the table probably won't make that much difference to manager Sean O'Driscoll – after all, I think we all know by now that he doesn't look at it!
All joking aside, I don't think it makes much difference, particularly as the feeling around Ashton Gate is a lot more positive after much improvement in form over recent weeks.
There is so little to choose between those down at the bottom at the moment and I still believe there are possibly eight teams involved in the battle to avoid relegation.
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Yes, City are bottom, that's a fact, but the way they beat Middlesbrough last weekend suggests to me that they are a team playing with confidence with players who believe that under Sean they really have a chance of getting out of trouble between now and the end of the season.
What about the pass by Neil Kilkenny to give Albert Adomah the chance to score the opening goal at Ashton Gate on Saturday?
That's the sort of ball you wouldn't have seen earlier in the season, you'd have been more likely to see it go backwards or sideways, such was the lack of confidence around the place at that time.
A win at second-from-bottom Wolves tomorrow would certainly be a major step towards staying up and that makes it a massive game for Sean and his players.
Some will say that Wolves, as the home side, will hold the advantage and sometimes I would agree with that. At the moment, though, manager Dean Saunders is under massive pressure and I think he would actually prefer to be playing the game at Ashton Gate.
I am really positive about City's chances this weekend as well as the coming weeks because under Sean they have at least put themselves right in the mix. You have to look deeper than the league table at this time of the season – you need to consider form and City are certainly one of those sides enjoying a good run of it at this time.
What Sean could do without is to lose Jon Stead for any length of time – particularly with Ryan Taylor already ruled out for the rest of the campaign – but at this stage of the season a lot of managers are in the same boat in terms of injuries.
It is important not to focus on the things you haven't got and look around to see who has what it takes to perhaps do a job for you to fill in the gaps.
It's a bit like what happened a couple of weeks ago when Sean lost Louis Carey. It seemed a hammer blow at the time, but Lewin Nyatanga – a player that was well out of the first-team picture a couple of months ago – has come in and stepped up to the plate.
While City's fight to beat the drop enters a crucial stage, Bristol Rovers' own battle for survival appears to be close to a successful conclusion.
John Ward probably won't say it until the mathematics makes it impossible to say otherwise – but Rovers are on the verge of guaranteed survival following an impressive victory over Port Vale on Tuesday night.
I can see them getting over the 50-point mark after they have faced Rochdale at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow and John will then be able to start planning for next season with a bit more certainty.
The players have done an amazing job under difficult circumstances to drag the club out of the bottom two since Christmas, and I hope that John will be able to persuade the likes of Steve Mildenhall, Mark McChrystal and John-Joe O'Toole to make a full-time commitment to join what will hopefully be a much more positive season next time around.
You would imagine the way that Rovers are finishing the season will inevitably lead to them being installed as promotion-favourites at the start of next season and with that comes a different pressure, as we have seen over the last couple of seasons.
Those concerns are for another day, though, and we should focus on what appears to be only good news coming out of Rovers at the moment after plans to build a new stadium also received a further boost earlier in the week.
Whenever I see a Rovers fan in the street these days all they keep shouting at me is: "Up the Gas!". It is in stark contrast to earlier in the season when you could tell those same fans were embarrassed and ashamed by the position in which their club was in at that time. Ward has to take massive credit that transformation.