Grecians boss reflects on Cheltenham defeat and missing out on play-offs
Following a 1-0 home defeat to Cheltenham, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale expressed his disappointment in missing out in the play-off positions for the 2012/13 campaign.
The Grecians had been tipped by the bookies before the beginning of the season to be finishing around the mid-table mark; however Tis felt that those factors had little bearing on the heartache of being unable to secure an opportunity to extend the season a little further by finishing amongst the play-off places, in particular because they had been hopeful of securing a place in the automatic positions until recently.
“We thought we had a chance – I’m sure we could have reached the play-offs,” said Tis. “If we look at where we were three or four months ago, we were an automatic promotion team. The injuries have cost us too dear.
“It doesn’t hurt any less, what people’s pre-season expectations were or what the bookies had us down for or thought we were capable of. It hurts all the same.”
On the result itself, Tis was dissatisfied with the result but not the performance. The first half in particular saw City create numerous chances, though the Robins were able to close the door effectively in the second period to see out a single-goal win.
“It’s disappointing,” he continued, “and there’s plenty of reason why that’s the case – we’ve been left wanting in one or two areas of our game. But I’m really pleased with the way the players and the squad have committed to the season – again today I thought it was a fantastic effort from a group that has been depleted with half a dozen definite starters out and young players coming into the side.
“I thought we played well, especially in the first half, but it sort of summed up the season as we lost to Cheltenham twice – as we have done in both occasions, we played really well but didn’t score against them on either occasion.
“We had approaching ten shots today – one or two too many over the crossbar, but we had plenty of shots. They were snatched at times and perhaps we should have done better – but it was one of the best first-half performances of the season. I’m delighted to see the likes of Jordan Moore-Taylor and Jamie Reid coming into the side, and it’s a sign of things to come I think.”
Ultimately it was a post-Christmas bout of injuries to key players that thinned out the City squad and made it tough for the Grecians to maintain any semblance of a consistent squad and reduced the sheer quality on the teamsheets. In itself, Tis felt that that factor was a key component in coming up just marginally short as the season approaches its end.
“Every side will suffer from injuries – you will have your injury crisis. The only difference here at Exeter is that there is no back-up to replace them. I’m pleased with the likes of Gosling, Reid, Moore-Taylor and Dawson coming into the side and playing – but if you are going to be a serious promotion team, you can’t be basing on those players.
“We have no back-up. We played a team today that were largely full-strength with a strong bench, and it’s like getting blood from a stone at times and trying to conjure up different situations. I would say losing Matt Oakley against Gillingham was one straw too many for us. It probably sums up the last couple of months. We’ve done really well with what we have at our disposal.”
Thanks for all your support at St James Park this season and we’ll look forward to seeing you at the Park again for 2013/14.