Being 2nd in League One with a game in hand of the 1st place Swindon Town, Robins fans have every right to be exited about this seasons campaign. Bristol City have lead the division and put together several impressive displays, as they hover around the two top positions.
Pride of Nottingham's taken the time to ask several questions to Robin's fan 'Hodge' who is currently exiled away from the club in which he supports.
Firstly, could you please tell prideofnottingham.co.uk a little about yourself such as how long you've been a Robins fan?
I've been a City fan for around 13 years having started watching them at about the age of 10. Outside football I'm currently studying a masters degree at UCLan in Preston so a bit of an exile but managing to get to a fair few away games.
At the start of the season where did you hope Bristol City would be by this point and what is the difference compared to last season?
Given that least season was our first back in the division and we started it by being rooted to the bottom until sacking Sean O'Driscoll and replacing him with Steve Cotterill its hard to compare, Cotterill did a great job to get us back to 12th from taking over in January so going into this season I wasn't sure what to expect. However given our activity in the transfer market bringing in players who were attracting interest from championship clubs such as Luke Freeman, Korey Smith, Aaron Wilbraham and Kieran Agard (who left promoted Rotherham as their top scorer to join us) I was expecting us to be around the play-offs.
Which three players do you feel will be runners for your 'Player of the Season' and why?
Luke Freeman - Great engine, never stops running and chasing the game when we're not on the ball, his influence only grows game by game as he becomes accustomed to a unfamiliar position while being dangerous going forward.
Aden Flint - Rock of our defence, great aerial presence and along with Luke Ayling and Derrick Williams has been a big factor of success in our defence.
If Aaron Wilbraham hadn't been injured the last few weeks I'd have said him, but Korey Smith. Does the job that no one really notices, cleans up any opposition attacking play well, recycles and gets us going forward again. Also has a mean right boot on him when given the chance.
What are your thoughts on Steve Cotterill as your manager? Do you always agree with his lineups and substitutions?
Honestly when I heard Cotterill was the manager we were after, not even interviewing someone else I really didn't feel enthusiastic about what the club was doing, never have I ever been so wrong. Cotterill was an inspired choice as he managed to take us from bottom at Christmas last season to top at Christmas this season. In the calender year of 2014 we picked up around 84 points which put City 9th overall from all 4 divisions. As for his line ups well, we're going to play 532 with wingbacks, you could practically bet your mortgage on it and the line up will rarely change.
GK - Frank Fielding
RWB - Mark Little
RCB - Luke Ayling
CB - Aden Flint
LCB - Derrick Williams
LWB - Joe Bryan
CM - Wade Elliott
CM - Korey Smith
CM - Luke Freeman
ST - Matt Smith
ST - Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Only way that will be different will be if either Kieron Agard or Aaron Wilbraham have recovered from injury where they may replace Emmanuel-Thomas. Its hard to argue against the team as its one that has only found itself being knocked off the top spot for the first time in over 100 days due to Swindon playing a league game while we were playing an FA Cup game.
As for his substitutions, occasionally I feel Cotterill can wait a bit too long to make subs, as if he's hoping things stay like they are (having been top all season and results generally being in our favour). Sometimes you can see and feel the game changing and as a fan think something needs to be changed where as Cotterill does nothing, sometimes it costs us, sometimes it doesn't.
At Ashton Gate what is the atmosphere like, which away teams have impressed you with their support and why?
This season the atmosphere can be very hit and miss I find, with the main bunch of loud fans having to be relocated due to the redevelopment it has meant that some have split up and gone to other areas of the ground leading to some quieter games, but when the fans get going it can be a fantastic atmosphere. As for away fans, I've only been able to get down to a few games this season given my distance from Bristol. Yeovil Town provided a decent atmosphere on boxing day, however the distance between the two sides geographically probably helped in that regard.
How much does football mean to you in general and what attracted you to supporting Bristol City?
Admittedly Football is not my main sport, I never played it apart from at school. However I have watched Football since a young age and was glued to it instantly, I try and watch as much as possible, whether watching Bristol City games where I had been a season ticket for around 5 years before moving for university or when possible watching any games on tv. As for what drew me to City, I moved to Somerset when I was 8 and my dad started taking me along to games within a year or two so I have probably been watching City for a good 13 years or so.
Which Bristol City players are currently inform and how would you expect your side to play on Saturday?
While limiting it to three is hard as so many are playing well I'd have to say Matt Smith (on loan from Fulham), Luke Freeman and Aden Flint would probably be my three picks for players in the best form. Smith has scored 8 in 4 games (4 against Gillingham in the JPT semi final), Freeman despite being a winger has found himself being played in central midfield with license to go forward and has adapted brilliantly. And finally Aden Flint has been our rock in defence a really commanding centre back both in terms of his game play and as a presence within the team.
Out of the Notts County players which would you be concerned about and who would you set to mark them?
Apart from the well known players such as Smith, Carroll, Mullins etc I admit Notts County are a club I'm not so well clued up on for their best players. However I remember Stephen McLaughlin from his time on loan with us and that he can cause problems, also given that we operate using wing backs, he could get some free runs at them.
Which two games this season stand out for you for good and bad reasons, please tell us why?
Sheffield United away first game of the season, pre season Sheffield Utd had been tipped as the favourites by many to run away with the league, so for us to win away there on the opening game sent a clear message of our intentions for this season.
Peterborough away, despite their league position p'boro is never an easy place to travel to, so given we won 3-0 and dominated while on TV it again sent out the message of what we were capable of having come off the back of successive defeats the previous two games.
Pride of Nottingham would like to thank Robins fan Hodge for taking the time to answer our questions, we wish him all the very best with his masters degree and we wish Bristol City all the best with the rest their season.