Defender knows that more challenges await on the road
Despite City’s exceptional away form this season, defender Pat Baldwin is keeping his feet on the ground ahead of the trip to York on Saturday.
Exeter have won four on the spin from their recent road trips, but Pat is more than aware that City can’t take anything for granted at Bootham Crescent. Those victories haven’t come by luck – they’ve come as part of well-executed game-plans and through plenty of toil, and the centre-half knows that a fifth straight win will require the same level of graft once more.
“Our away form has been fantastic,” said Baldwin. “So we need to approach it in exactly the same way as we have been, and not get carried away just because we’ve won away games. It doesn’t automatically assume that you’re going to win the next game. We’ll be going into it the same way as we’ve been doing.”
One disadvantage however is the loss of leading goalscorer Jamie Cureton, whose three-match ban will see him return no earlier than the trip to Bristol Rovers. However Pat is confident that the players in the squad will be able to contribute goals from other areas of the pitch and that they can go into battle without their marksman without having any worries, and picked out Jimmy Keohane as someone that is vying for a regular spot.
“We proved it when we went down to ten men – and Jimmy has come in and done fantastic for us. He’s definitely helped put some legs in there, with his young legs. We’ve got enough players in the squad to contribute and to score goals.
“We are confident going into Saturday, but it’s going to be a hard task but we’ll give it our best shot and hopefully get the three points.”
And on the subject of being a man short on New Year’s Day, Pat was also pleased with City’s ability to keep a clean sheet and show a real defensive nous, despite playing most of the game against Wycombe at a numerical disadvantage.
“I thought we handled the pressure quite well. At times it felt as though it was 11 against 11. We made the game predictable and controlled the game, which is a massive contrast from the weeks before and it was a fantastic victory for us.
“Tis spoke at half-time about how he wanted us to play – to defend from the front. He said to the forward players that they needed to work that little bit harder for us, and they were magnificent in shutting them down and making their play predictable. It made it easier for us as a back four to squeeze up and sweep up and defend well.
“Any clean sheet is satisfying, because we haven’t kept enough this year. And to keep it in the manner in which we did with ten men does make it a bit more special. The way we’ve been playing we deserved that clean sheet.”
Undoubtedly the likes of Kevin Amankwaah and Jordan Moore-Taylor are bursting at the seams to get places in the squad, but the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the advantages of having a settled rearguard. And Pat agrees that playing within the same unit most weeks – alongside Danny Coles, in front of Artur Krysiak, and flanked by Steve Tully and Craig Woodman – is helping that five-man unit become stronger.
“To have that continuity in the team helps you massively,” he continued. “You get to know everyone’s game – don’t forget that we’re a back four that have come together this season. A lot of back fours have played together for a while – if you look successful teams, they all have settled teams.
“Each game we’re going to get better and find out about each other’s game a bit more. Hopefully in the second half of the season we can kick on.”