Lawrence puzzling over Bluebirds

Last updated : 13 March 2003 By Michael Morris

LENNIE Lawrence admits he is facing a conundrum which is threatening to wreck Cardiff City's promotion dream.

The Bluebirds team boss is mystified why the same group of players battled so fiercely to fight back and earn a draw at Stockport, but then failed to repeat that battling spirit when they went a goal down at home to Notts County.

It's a Ninian Park problem he is convinced he will solve in time for City's two home matches in four days - against Blackpool and Mansfield Town next week.

"It's not physical, it has nothing to do with fitness," said Lawrence. "With 20 minutes to go at Stockport we were 1-0 down and the players mounted a massive physical and mental effort. We scored an equaliser and did enough to have won.

"At home to Notts County we were 1-0 down with minutes left and we could not repeat what we did at Stockport. And yet it's the same group of players.

"There is a fear factor at Ninian Park and we have to overcome that.

"We play Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park on Friday and that is an important match, but the crucial games are at Ninian Park against Blackpool on Tuesday and Mansfield Town the following Friday.

"We have to get it right - after that we will have three home games left.

"It's nothing to do with playing systems, tactics or formations - it's all about our ability to cope with setbacks at home. We cope away and we have to do the same at Ninian Park. If we were winning at home and losing too many away then we could be accused of having a soft centre.

"But that's not the case. We are doing pretty well away and it's at home we have to be more convincing. I have to solve the problem and, believe me, it will be solved."

Steve Jenkins is back in the squad for Friday's match at Tranmere Rovers and is likely to play at right-back with Gary Croft switching to the left.

Peter Thorne, Gavin Gordon and Leo Fortune-West are also included as Lawrence ponders on his attacking line-up for a match which could see City move above second-placed Crewe.