McInnes leads survival battle

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IF he didn’t know when he first took over in mid-October, new Bristol City manager Derek McInnes now knows he faces a battle to keep the Robins in the Championship.

The Scot quickly turned things around on his arrival at Ashton Gate and the Robins ended October on a high with a 2-1 win at Oakwell on the last weekend in October and went through November unbeaten after winning three of their five games and drawing the other two.

But the club’s fortunes changed in December as they picked up just four points from a draw at home to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest and a 1-0 win at Southampton - a result which saw them complete the double over the league leaders - on the last day of the year.

But if the former St Johnstone boss thought his charges had turned the corner he was to be disappointed, despite a 1-0 home win over fellow strugglers Millwall in the first game of 2012.

His side suffered an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat against League Two outfit Crawley in the third round of the FA Cup the following weekend.

McInnes made three changes for last weekend’s trip to Brighton, but to no avail as the Bluebirds soared to a 2-0 win.

An angry McInnes labelled his team ‘tepid’ as they failed to score for the second successive game.

He was particularly annoyed that City didn’t create any sort of scoring chance until they had gone 2-0 down.

“We didn’t get enough quality crosses into the box and we didn’t get enough service to the front two.”

The game marked the debut of on-loan striker Chris Wood alongside leading scorer Nicky Maynard.

Wood had spent time at Brighton last season and had helped them win promotion to the Championship.

Maynard is no stranger to Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders who was called in by Crewe to work with him during his time at Gresty Road.

Saunders has briefed his charges about the danger posed by Maynard but his side may not have to contend with another City danger man, Albert Adomah.

The gifted winger, who has previously proved a threat to Rovers, is rated a doubtful with a calf injury which ruled him out of the Brighton game.

Powerful midfielder Marvin Elliott is also facing a race against time to be fit.”

One man who looks certain to play is former England keeper David James, who played well in the 1-1 draw at the Keepmoat in August.