Derek McInnes: Bristol City fans must turn Ashton Gate into a fortress
DEREK McInnes has challenged Bristol City fans to pack out Ashton Gate when Blackburn Rovers come to town on Saturday week.
Relegated from the Barclays Premier League last season, Steve Keen's star-studded team are already shaping up to be one of the biggest draws in the npower Championship.
Robins fans turned out in big numbers to back their team in key relegation battles against Coventry and Barnsley towards the end of last season, but attendance at Ashton Gate has dipped this term.
City's two home games to date – against Crystal Palace and Cardiff – only yielded below-average crowds of 12,221 and 14,386, respectively, and manager McInnes, pictured, aware of the galvanising effect of a positive atmosphere, is urging stay-away fans to return to the fold.
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City have made an encouraging start to the campaign and the match against Blackburn can justifiably be billed as a top-of-the-table clash with the visitors in second place with eight points from their first four games in the Championship.
McInnes said: "On the back of a good start and playing at home to Blackburn, I would like to think we can get the place rocking and get a big crowd right behind the team.
"We saw the dividends that could pay last season when our supporters turned out in huge numbers and got behind the team when it was really needed.
"There was a kick on from that with the players and performances and the points we gathered towards the end.
"Just because we had a cause back then, does not mean we don't have one now. Our cause is to try to keep this momentum going.
"Hopefully, the crowd are enjoying what they are seeing at the minute and turn out in force against Blackburn.
"Certainly, the players will enjoy being backed in good numbers."
McInnes appreciates watching Championship football is an expensive exercise, but insists Bristolians will respond if they see the players giving 100 per cent.
He said: "We have had three decent performances and the supporters need to see a committed team every time we play here.
"We may not always be as good as we were in the last couple of games, but if we stay committed then, hopefully, we can have a few more home victories.
"We have certainly got a taste for it in the last couple of weeks and we want to have more of that."
Too many opposition sides have left Ashton Gate with the points in recent seasons and McInnes wants to make BS3 a fortress over the next nine months.
He added: "We want to make Ashton Gate the most uncomfortable 90 minutes any team has this season and the fans have a part to play in that.
"I don't want opposition teams thinking of Bristol as a nice little place with a nice pitch where they can enjoy themselves – I want it to be somewhere they don't like coming.
"I want our fans to make noise and inspire our team and help Ashton Gate gain a reputation as being a difficult place to come."