Paul recounts Exeter's last visit to Rochdale
Last time City turned out against Rochdale, they were cruising to a 2-0 win at Spotland. However a frenetic few minutes at the end of the match saw the Grecians snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a truly bizarre reversal, as Jason Kennedy’s 88th-minute strike completed an unthinkable turnaround.
Despite the scoreline, Tis is keen for his current crop to reach the levels that they found on that day last April, when the Grecians dominated nearly the entire game, only to come unstuck in the closing stages.
“I’d like to play as well as we did that day,” said Tis. If we can play anywhere close to it, I’d be happy. Sometimes you just can’t change the way a game goes like that.
“That game was remarkable, one of the most remarkable games I’ve been involved with, in the way it just swung at the end of the game. For 80 minutes we had dominated the game end ended up losing 3-2 having been leading 2-0. We could have had three, four or five in the second half.
“Every time we’ve been there we’ve played well. As a starting point, you hope the team turns up and plays really well. Then we have to find a way of winning the game, and scoring more than we concede – it sounds simple, but that’s the difficult part of the game.”
The loss to Rochdale proved terminal, as Exeter failed to recover and eventually slipped out of the division. But the Dale dropped through npower League 1’s trapdoor too and are currently in a near-identical position to City, leading by just a +1 goal difference.
“We’ve both come down last year, and now we’re both in similar positions. They lost their last home game [to York City] which they won’t be too pleased about, so I expect they’ll be a team focused on winning. Our priority is making sure we’re at our best.”
The journey up to Lancashire follows a short mid-season gap, which comes as a result of an FA Cup first round loss to Bury on the last occasion that City ventured to that part of the country. A free weekend was welcomed by Tis, who was more than happy to have a breather after a hectic start to the year – and before a bumper Christmas fixture list.
“You always have to dress up the positives, and I’m quite happy that we’ve had a rest,” he said. “There were one or two players that were quite tired and sore after the last game, and we’ve had a lot of games already this season. So it’s no bad thing.”
No teams in npower League 2 have won more away from home than the Grecians this year, but Tisdale feels that it has been the indifferent results at St James’ Park which have been more of a surprise than the excellent string of wins on the road.
“The anomaly this year has been the home results, as opposed to the away results. We go into every game not just hoping we can win, but expecting we have a very good chance of winning. Tactically things might change but I’d like to think we can win any game.”
With Scot Bennett suspended for the fixture and Tommy Doherty possibly sidelined, Tis has no concerns about using less experienced players in his starting line-up.
A City reserve outfit drew 1-1 with their Bristol City counterparts, with Jimmy Keohane netting the equalising goal. Tis was happy to name the Irishman as a player that has been catching his eye in recent weeks and meriting opportunities.
“We’ve got a lot of good young players who are worthy of being on the fringes of the team. You often get a lot of players that aren’t ready at that point but we’ve got the likes of Jimmy Keohane, Aaron Dawson, Jordan Moore-Taylor that are getting closer to being first-team players.”