Last updated at 15:00, Saturday 8th December 2012

Owls offer sanctuary for Robins


Mike Holden
Championship - weekend preview

Hillsborough hosts a huge six-pointer in the relegation battle at the foot of the Championship this Saturday and Mike Holden is backing Bristol City to come out on top when they face Sheffield Wednesday...

2pts Bristol City to beat Sheff Wed (draw no bet) at 13/8Make-or-break match for both managers, demanding home crowd can assist the visitors.1pt Burnley to beat Nottm Forest at 49/20Forest are going through a sticky patch and Clarets have the quality to take advantage.

It's make or break for Dave Jones and Derek McInnes in the Championship this weekend and we're backing the latter to preserve his job for at least another week by guiding Bristol City to a positive result against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Take the 13/8 available on Bristol City (draw no bet).

Both managers are firmly under the cosh at the moment and there's no escaping the parallels between this fixture and the QPR v Southampton game in the Premier League three weeks ago when the visitors played without fear, allowing Nigel Adkins to bag a morale-boosting win at the expense of Mark Hughes.

We're not sure whether McInnes can push his players' buttons quite like Adkins but it certainly suits the Robins to be the away side in this scenario, free from the pressure of preying eyes, knowing full well the backlash that awaits if things don't go according to plan.

Given that both teams have lost six of their last eight at home with season ticket holders forced to endure a 4-1 thrashing as the latest offering, the situation would have been the same either way around. Travelling fans tend to be more supportive, so the premium you pay for home advantage in the Wednesday price is barely worth having.

Back Bristol City to beat Sheff Wed (draw no bet) at 9/4

Jones is acutely aware of the negative burden that the Hillsborough crowd can become because he spent most of his post-match interview against Watford bemoaning it as part of the culture he inherited. He might have a point, but expressing it is unlikely to do him any favours on the day of reckoning.

And neither is hanging the players out to dry when they need your backing most. Jones was clearly upset when he tried to distance himself from the performance against the Hornets but you did get the feeling he was sealing his own fate with some of his remarks that evening.

Wednesday gave it their best shot at top-of-the-table Cardiff last Sunday, passing up the opportunity to return the favour and stab Jones in the back by embarrassing him at his old stomping ground, so we shouldn't portray the relationship as broken and irreperable. However, this match threatens a more acute form of adversity and Jones needs every ounce of goodwill he can get.

McInnes had to run a gauntlet of questions at a fans' forum this week but he's enjoying a much smoother relationship with his dressing room. Indeed, the four-goal hiding at home to Wolves last weekend came as a shock because McInnes was convinced his men had overcome their confidence issues with impressive displays at Middlesbrough and Brighton.

If the Robins can repeat the standards they set at the Riverside and Amex Stadium, then it promises to be a long afternoon for Jones - and it will probably be his last in the Hillsborough hotseat.

Back Bristol City to beat Sheff Wed (draw no bet) at 9/4

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest have become a little predictable without Simon Cox providing the ideal foil for Billy Sharp and we reckon Burnley are worth chancing to inflict a third straight defeat on Sean O'Driscoll's men at 49/20.

Based on the consistency they've shown to date, we'd be put off the idea that the Reds would endure such a sequence but, drawing upon past knowledge from O'Driscoll's time at Doncaster, his teams do have a tendancy to hit a brick wall when fringe players step into the breach.

Dexter Blackstock is the man charged with bringing another dimension to the attack if Forest go with two strikers but we're not convinced he's suited to the O'Drsicoll blueprint, and neither is O'Driscoll judging by his decision to play a 4-5-1 system against Hull last weekend.

That might have been as much to do with the Tigers' unorthodox formation but, either way, it's shaping up to be an uncertain period for the Midlanders and Burnley have shown a greater resilience in the first few weeks of the Sean Dyche regime and they possess a natural born match-winner in Charlie Austin.

Back Burnley to beat Nottm Forest at 49/20

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