City manager prepared for a challenging derby fixture
Ahead of Saturday’s Devon Derby against Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale is more than aware that the team will have to earn anything they take back up the Devon Expressway from Home Park.
In what is sure to be a tightly-contested battle, with neither team likely to give any ground cheaply, the game is poised to be one of the most important meetings between the old rivals for many years. Usually the cliché ahead of a derby fixture is that there is ‘more than three points at stake’, but on this occasion, the points appear to trump the lure of the bragging rights as both sides are determined to enhance their ambitions at either end of the table.
“We’re looking forward to playing games at the business end of the season, regardless of the opposition,” explained Tis. “But then when you factor into the occasion a big local derby, it’s really interesting. It’s going to make a really good weekend.
“I’m well aware of the importance of this game for both clubs, and how it could affect each club’s prospects. It does add more to the game, on top of what would ordinarily be a very highly-energised game.
“As a manager, you have to think and make a choice whether you acknowledge that with the players and discuss that, and bring all those factors into the preparation. Or whether you do the opposite, and step away from it and prepare like any other game. Either way, there’s no point hiding the fact that it’s a very big game and a very big local derby.”
Lying in 21st, the Pilgrims are actually a place lower than they were when they travelled to St James Park back in December. But with plenty having taken place since then – including the replacement of manager Carl Fletcher with John Sheridan and a number of changes in the playing ranks, and something of a revitalisation of results in recent weeks – the hosts are likely to offer a new challenge.
“They’ll be different,” continued Tis. “We’ve got one of their players from that day for a start, in Mark Molesley. Their home form since the turn of the year has been good – from their seven home games they’ve had since John [Sheridan] has been in charge, they’ve won three and drawn three. So there’s been a sea-change there in their home performances. We’re not going to a side that’s ready to be beaten.
“I don’t think we’re going to get an easy game – even if they were on bad form, you’d still be hearing the same things from me.
“There’s going to be nothing in this game, and whatever we get, we’ll have to earn. And hopefully they will too. I can’t see there being too much given away.”
One of the most notable aspects of the Grecians’ season is their ability to win on the road – and, having broken the club’s all-time record for away victories during a campaign already this season, the City boss is calling on the players to show the same kind of resolve in this game, even in the emotional context of the derby.
“The team has to remember to try to perform in the way we have done away from home for most of the season, and not get drawn into the emotions of the game.”
Remember that if you aren’t going to the Devon Derby, you can still listen to the match commentary live via Grecian Player for absolutely free by taking advantage of the 14-day FREE trial. Click here for more information. And don't forget, Grecian Player is available on iPhone and Android – meaning wherever you are in the world, you don't have to miss a kick.