Bristol City vs. Forest preview..

Oops, running late as ever! A very happy Easter to you all – whether of a religious persuasion or, like me, just grateful for an extra couple of days off work.  The delay is useful though, with West Brom beating Leicester comfortably today, I am personally of the belief that a gap of 12 points (13 if we include West Brom’s vastly superior goal difference) is too much to make up in the six games we have remaining.  Even though the Baggies have played one more.

So yes, our first attempt at the forlorn hope of catching second is a trip to Ashton Gate.  We go there on the back, of course, of seven consecutive league defeats on our travels – a millstone Billy and the boys will be keen to lift from their necks before a swift return to action at the City Ground on Monday against Cardiff City.  Also at the back of Billy’s mind must be keeping his options as fresh as possible for our increasingly probably involvement in the playoffs.

Our hosts have turned around an indifferent run since – to the surprise of many – parting company with Gary Johnson.  Keith Millen (his assistant) is currently in charge as caretaker, and under this care he’s drawn with Newcastle, and overseen victories over Barnsley and Peterborough.  They’re sitting comfortably in mid-table with a very remote chance of the playoffs or, indeed, getting dragged into the relegation scrap.  Remaining in midtable looks most likely, though!

We are without McKenna and Bennett still, and both Kelv and Tys picked up slight knocks up at Newcastle so will be monitored to ensure they’re fit to play.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Billy mix it up a bit purely to keep his squad sharp, and give folks a rest where may be needed – as I said above, whilst he won’t admit it, he must be thinking that West Brom have done enough now to be safe from us catching up with them thanks to their comfortable win over Leicester.  I’m expecting to see loan man Boyd feature too.

City are thought likely to have Haynes and Elliott available to them after they were taken off against Peterborough with injuries, the other doubt it Bradley Orr who has a tight hamstring.  Definite absentees are McAllister, McCombe and Wilson who’re all nursing more serious injuries.  The one to look out for for us is goal-machine Nicky Maynard, with 16 goals so far this season he’ll have his eye on more – not to mention Danny Haynes who strung us with a late equaliser at the City Ground earlier in the season.

To have any chance at all of catching the automatic places then a win is necessary – and it would be most welcome regardless of whether you believe we can catch the Baggies.  The psychological impact of ending this godforsaken run of away results would be a tremendous boost to give us the opportunity to finish the season strongly, and take some solid form and confidence into the playoffs to see if we can’t make it third time lucky in this horrible lottery.

I’m missing out on this one, the first away game I’ve missed since… hmm, West Brom.  Oh, that was the last one we won, wasn’t it?  I imagine that if nothing else – if things run according to the law of Sod – means that we can perhaps expect a scintillating performance and valuable three points?  Hmm, perhaps that’s a little self-indulgent, but I hope it proves to be true for those of you that are travelling down to the West Country!