Media match previews ahead of tonights game.

Last updated : 18 March 2003 By Michael Morris

'Wild Thing' lines up on the Bluebirds wing

NEW Cardiff City signing Gareth Ainsworth insists he has not gambled his career by swapping First Division football at Wimbledon for life at Ninian Park.

The 29-year-old right winger, who joined the Dons from Port Vale in a £2m switch in 1998, has signed a contract with the Bluebirds until the end of the season for a small fee.

And the player who only a fortnight ago scored the Dons' dramatic late winner against First Division leaders Portsmouth is set to make his Second Division bow for City at home to Blackpool tonight.

Ainsworth - nicknamed `Wild Thing' during his days at Selhurst Park - is eligible to play against the Seasiders after yesterday passing his medical.

"I don't think leaving Wimbledon for Cardiff is a gamble," said Blackburn-born Ainsworth. "I know I'm dropping down a division but I honestly see this move as a forward step.

"The crowds at Cardiff are fabulous and the whole place is buzzing at the moment. This club has got massive potential and I want to be a part of that."

Ainsworth's move has reunited him with City owner Sam Hammam, who took him to Wimbledon, and also striker Peter Thorne, his old Blackburn Rovers team-mate.
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Lawrence: Our last chance

LENNIE LAWRENCE boldly predicted Cardiff City would win automatic promotion to the First Division - if they win this week's two home games.

The Bluebirds manager has not seen his side record back-to-back league victories since the end of November, but he believes City will take a giant step towards Division One if they win a Ninian Park double-header against Blackpool tonight and Mansfield on Friday.

Lawrence has strengthened his injury-ravaged squad for the final run-in, signing Wimbledon winger Gareth Ainsworth and Coventry City midfielder Lee Fowler.

Ainsworth joined the Dons from Port Vale in a £2m deal in 1998 while Cardiff-born Fowler scored in Coventry's 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over the Bluebirds last January.

"If we win these two home games then I think we'll do it," Lawrence said yesterday. "I'm not saying we won't go up if we don't win these games, but I feel this is our last chance to put some daylight between ourselves and the rest of the chasing pack.

"If we fail to get six points this week then the promotion battle will almost certainly go down to the wire."

City are in third spot, one point behind Crewe Alexandra - who hold the second and final automatic promotion place - but the Bluebirds have a game in hand.

However, after the visit of struggling Mansfield, City will go 15 days without a league game since their March 29 trip to Wycombe Wanderers has been switched to April 8 due to call-ups for the Wales-Azerbaijan Euro 2004 qualifier.
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Seasiders boss previews Cardiff City

Pool have Richie Wellens back in the squad after a one game suspension and report no fresh injuries ahead of the game. Looking ahead Manager Steve McMahon admitted it was a huge game,
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