Cardiff City defender Matt Connolly targeted a fourth clean sheet in five games when the Bluebirds visit the Goldsands Stadium to meet AFC Bournemouth on Saturday. With City on thirty points in ninth, a win could take them as high as the play-off positions, and that, Connolly explained, is what Russell Slade’s side are aiming for.
“This isn’t a defining period, but it is important,” Connolly started. “There are still plenty of games to go in this Championship. You can make late runs, as Reading and Crystal Palace plus others have done in the past. We haven’t played that well so far, it has been stop-start with change of managers, but we are still up there and that’s a good effort. I definitely enjoy the winter schedule. I love playing over Christmas - we will train late on Christmas Day and then travel to Charlton for the game on Boxing Day.
“AFC Bournemouth could be similar to Watford, we might have to wait for our chances. From what I’ve seen of them this season, they’ve been going really well. They have a good tempo about them, they move the ball around very well and they seem to know what they’re doing. The play quite similarly to the way Brentford [who are next up for the Bluebirds a week Saturday], in that they have high energy, they close down and they get the ball moving quickly, but I’m confident that we can get a result there, just like we did at Watford.”
Connolly echoed the sentiments of his teammates in targeting an improvement of the Bluebirds’ form on the road this season. With the first away win having come at Vicarage Road against Watford last time out, Connolly hoped that City can now go on a run away from Cardiff City Stadium.
“When we went up two seasons ago, our away form was terrible,” he said. “I remember we lost 5-4 at Charlton, which we can’t be doing - but we stuck at it and changed that. It’s very important to pick up points away, especially when we’re doing so well at home. If we can combine the two, we’ll be doing very well. Whenever you can pick up points away from home, it’s massive, and you’re giving yourself a good chance.
“Defensively it’s been good, three clean sheets in four games. We rode our luck at times, especially in the Watford game, when they had a few chances, but David Marshall has been fantastic. It’s been a team effort though. Le Fondre works his socks off up front and it starts from there.
“I think we were a bit gung-ho earlier in the season, with full-backs bombing on, but we have worked on that. The manager has addressed that, and we’ve worked hard on the shape. Players like Nooney [Craig Noone] get around, but also do a lot defensively as well, and that’s a big help. I feel that centre-back is my natural position, but it’s an honour to play for Cardiff City and love playing for this club. If the manager picks me there, I’ll play there.
“It wasn’t a good weekend last week performance wise, but it was good to get a third clean sheet in four games. We limited them to few chances, though we didn’t create much ourselves, but if you’d have offered us four points from the next two ahead of the Watford game, I think we’d have taken that.”