City boss lauds progress of defensive unit ahead of Morecambe trip
City’s League 2 campaign didn’t get off to the best of starts – this weekend’s hosts, Morecambe, were visitors on the Park that first clash of the season, and caused something of an upset with a 3-0 win.
The comprehensiveness of the scoreline belied the performance somewhat, as some rudimentary errors made life a little easier for the Shrimps. But ahead of the trip to the Globe Arena, Tis feels that the type of defensive errors that City were culpable of that afternoon have been all but eliminated, now that the defensive unit are becoming more and more familiar with each other’s game.
“We didn’t play badly on the day,” he continued. “That defence at the time was just settling into a pattern, learning distances, and getting to know each other. If you look at the last six games, that back four and Artur have been very, very consistent.
“If you go from the halfway point of the season – which is always a juncture I look at – we’ve been very strong at the back. I don’t want to tempt fate, but I don’t think we would have made those mistakes now.”
Despite being rocked with the news that midfield metronome Matt Oakley will be out of action for around a month with a thigh injury, Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale is confident that the players that have been waiting in the wings will be able to plug the gap.
Oakley has been one of the key components by orchestrating affairs in the Grecians’ midfield to date this season – so while his presence will be missed, Tis feels that injuries are just part and parcel of a long league season.
“[Oakley] has been very energetic and mobile for a senior play,” said Tis. “I think he’s probably surprised even himself with how fit he’s been. So it’ll be a loss for us, and with Liam Sercombe being out too it depletes us somewhat.
“But we’ve got some good players that can come in and play – Tommy Doherty and Arron Davies – so there’s plenty of players that can play in midfield. It’s one of those things – you have to expect it during the course of the year.”
And despite not having the resources to go out and invest in fresh blood during the winter transfer window, Tis is pleased that he has players that can have the same kind of impact coming into the team. With the gradual return to health of Guillem Bauza, and the breakthrough of more youngsters into the first team, he is optimistic for what lies ahead.
For Bauza in particular, Tis has been pleased with his contributions on the field in recent weeks and hopes that he’ll be playing a central role as City look to bounce back into npower League 1 at the first attempt.
“You have to trust people when they’ve been out for a while – you have to make sure you don’t give up on them, and those players need to always think they’ve got a route back and an opportunity again. It’s very easy to write people off.
“Health-wise, Guillem’s had a very chequered 18 months with us. We have to hope that he can find the fitness he’s been waiting for, for quite a while. If that does prove to be the case, he’ll play some games for us and I think he’ll do well.”
And further reflecting on a window without any outlay of cash, he believes that it is something of a blessing in disguise, inasmuch as it will allow further opportunities for younger players to embark on a transition from ‘talented prospect’ to ‘first-team footballer’.
“For a club like ours, it’s vitally important that young players become an asset – and the only way they’ll become an asset is by playing them. That’s the beauty of having transfer windows when you have no finances to bring players in – because you have to look within.
“If you’ve got money to spend, it’s the natural thing to go out and try and spend it. Sometimes you’ve got players under your nose that you don’t look at quite the same way because they’re yours.
“With Jake Gosling and Jamie Reid, we’ve been very keen to push them in training to see what they’re able to achieve. There’ll always be young players that will surprise you when they’re given that chance in the first team.
“[Against Aldershot] I thought Jake looked very comfortable in his environment.”