Returning attacker looks on to Burton fixtureAlex Nicholls came back to Exeter City on loan from Northampton Town a week ago – and his return to Devon came in a very different context to his first arrival with the club.
The Grecians had just two draws to their name when he first spent a training session at the Cat & Fiddle, and after his debut for Exeter – a home defeat to Mansfield Town – Exeter propped up the rest of the Football League.
But since then – and in no small part prompted by Alex’s arrival – Exeter have climbed the table and could take sixth place this weekend when Burton Albion arrive at the Park.
Nicholls was pleased that he was welcomed readily back in to a team that is high in spirit after three wholly positive months.
“Exeter were struggling when I first came, and it was nice to see the confidence breeding in the lads when I came back,” said Alex.
“They had carried on the form we were in by winning games, and it’s looking like we’re going to have a good season.
“The lads welcomed me back in, no problem at all. It was like I’d never been away to be honest – I’m still winning at cards on the coach as well!
“I’m just looking forward to getting playing. We’ve got a massive opportunity this weekend with nobody else playing to get right in amongst the play-offs, so that’s what we’ll be doing and I’m looking forward to that.
“We’ve got to back ourselves and the way we play, and that our gameplan will beat theirs. I think as a squad we back ourselves.
“We spoke about it as a group this morning – it’s a massive opportunity to cement our place right in there and have other teams looking up at us, which will be a nice change.”
Nicholls re-signed for Exeter last Thursday, and by Friday evening he was back out starting in City colours for the 3-2 win against Accrington at the Crown Ground.
He admitted that it was nice to be welcomed in by friendly faces, and that the prospects look good going forward.
“It’s nice to be around the lads again,” he continued. “That loan spell earlier in the season set me up nicely for it – I knew all the lads from before and settled back in straight away. Now I’m just looking forward to the next few weeks.
“The team hasn’t changed so it’s not that difficult. The way the team plays suits my style also, so I fitted back in nicely.
“The result [against Accrington] was the main aspect of it. Plenty of teams will go there this season and not come away with the points so I think we should look back and be proud of that.
“If we just tighten up on conceding goals I’m sure we’ll have a really good second half of the season.”
After being recalled by Northampton during his first loan spell with the Grecians, Nicholls made six more League 2 appearances for the Cobblers – however he wasn’t used for a 90-minute spell in any of them.
But now he is looking forward to featuring more heavily once again and hoping to help Exeter maintain their vein of form.
“I think it’s massive for any player to be involved and playing games,” he continued. “I had built my fitness up at Exeter, went back to Northampton and I was in and out.
“I could tell that my fitness had dropped off a little bit in the Accrington game. For the last five or ten minutes before I was taken off I was feeling it a little bit.
“Hopefully that will build up over the next few games and I’ll be better for it, and hopefully I can add some goals and some more winning results.”