Defender acknowledges team-mate's part in personal form.would be right up there with the main contenders.Matt ConnollyWith so many stand-out performers already this season, it’s hard to pick out any one new addition as being top of that performance list. What is for sure is that
Barnet-born Matt signed up with City from Queen’s Park Rangers back in August and after breaking into the side at Bristol City, has cemented his place. Comfortable at centre-half or right back, the defender has also contributed four goals to the team – the last of those coming as the winner here against Middlesbrough just over a fortnight ago.
CF11: Looking at the stats, you’re fourth in our leading scorers chart this season Matt! Did you see that coming?
MATT:No, I didn’t to be honest! I’ve not really scored that many goals in previous seasons so it’s been a bit of a surprise – but a nice one at the same time. They’ve come when I’ve been playing right-back and centre-back too, so while I probably would prefer to play at centre back I’m still really enjoying my football and have no complaints at all.
CF11: Can you put your goal scoring form down to anything? Is it a particular way that we’re playing?
MATT:Well, we’re playing different systems and we change it depending on whether we’re playing at home or away for example. I’m enjoying playing behind Nooney - he’s a great outlet from right back and when you give him the ball he always seems to do something with it or win us set-pieces. But I think it’s probably down to Whitts’ delivery from corners more than anything if I’m honest! He’s put in some great balls and, although I’ve had to be in the right position, he’s contributed to a lot of our goals this season.
CF11: You’ve confused us in the press box once or twice as you don’t really celebrate your goals. Is there any reason behind that?
MATT:Not really, I’ve just not planned anything as I never expected to score as many as I have in a short space of time! It’s not that I’m not happy to score – I just prefer to run over and congratulate the player who set me up as opposed to turning away and celebrating on my own. I know it sounds like a cliché, but when the game starts, my focus is on keeping a clean sheet; if I can score the odd goal on top of that as well then great.
CF11: Of course, if you score winning goals then it means you have to do the media duties after the match!
MATT:(Laughs) Yeah exactly, but that’s part and parcel of the job. Sometimes you’ve got to do it, so I’ve got no real problem with that.
CF11: As senior defenders, Huds and yourself have really had to step up and marshal that line the past few games with injuries having taken their toll.
MATT:Yeah, obviously we have a responsibility to help the young guys coming through, but Huds has also helped me a lot since I’ve been here. It’s a credit to him because, as captain, he’s been excellent with them as well as me, so it’s been great from him personally.
CF11:How impressed were you been by the way Ben Nugent and Joe Ralls have applied themselves when called upon last month?
MATT:Very impressed, and the experience they’ve gained from it will stand them in good stead at such a young age. Barnsley and Derby were two very tough games in which we had a lot of defending to do, but they both did so well. It’s a great credit to them and I’m sure they’ll carry on improving in the team.
CF11: Does it feel as if last week’s fortunes on the road could prove critical in the long run?
MATT:Yeah definitely, they were four very important points. We had an excellent win against Barnsley, and Derby is always a difficult place to go. Having taken the lead we defended well and, even after Nooney had been sent off against Derby, we showed great desire and determination to hang on.
CF11: Can you prepare for being reduced to ten men in a game?
MATT:I don’t think we’ve really practiced playing with ten men, but our training has a great intensity about it. If we do have a man sent off, we obviously need to dig in and work even harder. But we’re all very fit due to the way that the manger works us in training so that’s of great benefit to us if we do find ourselves in that situation.
CF11: The whole squad stayed in Yorkshire between matches. Of how much benefit do you guys find that when having two away games so close together?
MATT:Yeah, I think it helped massively this week. If we’d travelled home after the Barnsley match it would have been a long drive down and back up again to Derby. Of course it allows us to do things as a team as well. We all went for dinner, which was nice, and it’s a good chance to get to know each other even better as a team.
CF11: On a personal level, you must be delighted with how you’ve made yourself an essential part of the team?
MATT: was obviously my plan to play as many games as possible and help the team. The way I’ve settled in is just as much a credit to the other lads and the manager. I’ve enjoyed it a lot wherever I’ve played and I just want to help us to keep winning so we can stay at the top of the league and get into the Premier League. When I came here from QPR in the summer, it
CF11: Cardiff is a little small compared with what you’re used to in London! Are you settled in now?
MATT:Yeah, I’ve settled in fine. The lads have been brilliant and all the staff have been great as well. I really like Cardiff, it’s a nice place; I’ve got a little flat and a few people have been coming up to visit me which has helped. I often go and get food with the boys as well so I’m really enjoying living here.