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It had all started so well.

Granted losses to Gillingham in the Capital One Cup and Nottingham Forest on the opening day couldn’t give Bristol City the perfect start to the season they wanted.

But impressive victories over eventual play-off hopefuls Crystal Palace and future champions Cardiff City gave more than just hope of improving last season’s position of 20th in the Championship.

Sat 25th August 2012: Bristol City 4-2 Cardiff City - Things were looking promising!

Sat 25th August 2012: Bristol City 4-2 Cardiff City – Things looked promising!

A 5-3 loss to Blackburn Rovers was even seen as a positive by many including Derek McInnes who was now being viewed as a tactical genius, a man with the ability to make his players score goals at the drop of a hat and even managed to make Martyn Woolford look Championship standard. Cole Skuse even banged the drum for play-off places when I interviewed him in September and on recent form who could blame him?

So things were great, City were picking up points and even though they were losing it was only by a narrow margin. Ultimately though, it was the Robins’ inability to kill games off that proved to be their downfall. Soon narrow losses to Leeds United (2-3), Bolton Wanderers (3-2) and Burnley (3-4) left some doubting whether these players had the bottle to see out a game when the pressure was on.

We were now into November and Bristol City were left to look up at the rest of their rivals as they sat 23rd after 13 games. Not a great place to be. November brought 6 games for City and it was vital that they picked up points to kick on from the relegation zone and calm a few nerves. However four points from a possible 18 was unsurprisingly not good enough and gave the Robins a mountain of a task if they were to achieve their aim of staying in the Championship for a 7th season. By now fans were calling for McInnes’ head but the board stuck with ‘Delboy’ for a little while longer to see if he could yet rekindle that early season magic.

He couldn’t. Although City picked up points against their relegation rivals to give them some breathing space from above, they were still three points away from those outside the drop and the axe finally fell for McInnes after a 4-0 loss to Leicester City leaving the Robins six points from safety.

Derek McInnes was sacked following 4-0 defeat v Leicester City

Derek McInnes was sacked following 4-0 defeat v Leicester City

The question though was could anyone stop Bristol City sliding into League One at such an alarming rate? Step up to the plate Sean O’Driscoll. The former Bournemouth, Doncaster Rovers and Nottingham Forest man saw Bristol City as a challenge that he was more than willing to take.

And things started to pick up. Well it was better than before anyway. The players seemed to have much more fight under O’Driscoll and although the quality still wasn’t nearly enough for what the Championship demands City managed to close the gap on that dreaded dotted line. They even kept their first clean sheet of the season at the end of January against Watford but as we left January and entered February and then March things still were not any better for the Robins.

Meanwhile Wolverhampton Wanderers had dropped significantly down the league and the introduction of a new manager in Dean Saunders had given them a lift in confidence meaning the meeting between both sides on March 16th was crucial in terms of survival in one of the most hotly contested games of the season.

The fixture at Wolves’ Molineux was a must win game, or City would be teetering on the edge for sure. The narrow 2-1 defeat proved to be the telling factor as poor results at Derby County and Burnley meant that safety was out of our reach. The season was finally put to rest against Birmingham City when a 1-0 defeat condemned City to League One football next year.

Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham City: Wade Elliot's goal confirms relegation

Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham City: Wade Elliot’s goal confirms relegation

A mass exodus is expected in the summer with the likes of Albert Adomah, Tom Heaton and Steven Davies likely to be approached by a host of clubs but in a manager of Sean O’Driscoll’s stature and the experience he has of lifting teams out of League One many fans are quietly confident that it may not be too long before City are back among the ‘big’ boys of the English second tier.

Post written by Dan White
Twitter: @Dan_White14

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