Lawrence determined to learn from adversity

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The Independent Football

Lennie Lawrence and his Cardiff City side have reached a play-off final at the Millennium Stadium – where Lawrence finally hopes to rid himself of some bad memories.

The Cardiff manager saw his side withstand immense pressure at Bristol City on Tuesday when a goalless draw proved enough to send them through to the Second Division play-off final.

Lawrence is now determined to take the Bluebirds up to the First Division and exorcise the memories of last season's promotion heartbreak when Cardiff missed out after losing 3-2 on aggregate at the semi-final stage to Stoke City, who went on to win promotion to the First Division.

"No disrespect to Stoke, but the sound of them singing in the dressing room last year after they had beaten us in the semis is something that will haunt me forever," Lawrence said. "That's the sort of thing which drives you on, makes you determined not to let it happen again.

"It's about learning from adversity. We had won the first leg 2-1 and it's 0-0 until the closing minutes of the second leg, then they score, we get one sent off and then they score a second with a deflected free-kick. So they are in the dressing room singing because they have done what is nearly impossible. But in the next dressing room we are distraught, it was devastating."

Lawrence added: "For the fans to celebrate getting to the final is fine. But we know we have still got a final to play and I have told the players that to lose in that game will feel worse than if we had lost in the semi-finals."

Danny Wilson, the Bristol City manager, is expecting discussions with the Robins' chairman Steve Lansdown over an extension to his contract. "We'll wait and see what happens about talks on my contract," he said. "That's a discussion I'll have with the chairman, it's a private thing as far as I'm concerned.

"But we've had a terrific season this year and I'm enjoying my job here because we've seen progression. We've felt a little bit unlucky not to have gone straight up although to have been in the play-offs was an absolute dream for us."

In the Third Division play-offs, the former Wales midfielder Marcus Browning admitted he risked missing out on a dream trip to Cardiff by playing in Bournemouth's 3-1 semi-final second-leg win over Bury, which took the Cherries through by the same aggregate margin.

Browning was only declared fit three hours before kick-off after missing last weekend's 0-0 first-leg draw at Gigg Lane with a groin injury.

Browning said: "The groin has been causing me problems all week and it wasn't until about five o'clock that I decided to give it a go."