Tis: “A proper team out there”

City boss lauds players for U’s performance

Following a 0-0 draw against Oxford United at St James Park on Tuesday night, Grecians manager Paul Tisdale was full of praise for the performance of his players.

Oxford scarcely provided a true threat to Artur Krysiak’s goal, while Ryan Clarke in the Yellows’ net had to be on hand a number of times to foil City.

The City faithful inside St James Park responsive to the Grecians progressive play – built on a solid defensive line and a midfield full of invention – and a point was the least the Grecians merited.

So while the hankered-for victory didn’t quite come, there was plenty of cause for optimism off the back of a lively display.  In particular, it was pleasing for the manager to see the ball stay out of the Exeter net – incidentally their first clean-sheet since the trip to the Kassam Stadium to play Oxford in October, which also ended goalless.

“I’m very pleased with their effort and commitment – it was a proper team out there today,” said Tis.  “Despite the results of late, they showed no signs of wilting.

“I’m delighted for the clean sheet of course, because it’s something we’ve not had for a long time, and we worked very hard for it.  And it was good to see one of our teams at the end of nil-nil game doing the pushing at the end of the game and trying to win it, and doing it well.

“So I’m pleased with a point, and I’m very pleased with the performance and commitment.  We had a team out there, so I’m pleased.”

“It would have been easy to curse luck on Saturday [against AFC Wimbledon] when two deflected crosses ended up in the back of the net, but today we stopped the ball coming in.  We worked hard to recover into place and we never gave the opposition those sorts of opportunities.

“It was a full-on performance, we had energy all over the pitch, and we had no-one shirking the workload.”

With a busy period of games looming now, it also lays the foundations to build on.

Burton Albion provide the next challenge on Saturday at the Pirelli Stadium, and the City boss is hoping that the stone will continue to roll into that match.

“It was a big evening for us, and we’ve got to take that into Saturday,” he continued.  “My comment to the players was that we have to work extremely hard for a point, and we have to go into that game on Saturday with the same mentality.

“Once you start picking up those points, it’s amazing what happens – wins come easier.  But we have to start by the team ethic, the work, the clean-sheet, the energy, the commitment and the toughness – and we showed that today.”

Undoubtedly the big team news for City ahead of kick-off was the inclusion of Matt Oakley in the matchday squad for the first time since the Devon Derby against Plymouth at St James Park. 

While Oakley didn’t come on as a sub, Tis revealed that he played a large part in helping Matt Grimes – who had replaced him from the bench after his injury against the Pilgrims in October – to get back to fitness after his injury against AFC Wimbledon.

“[Matt Oakley] is nowhere near fit enough yet to start the game, but it’s just having the opportunity to put him on for ten minutes at the end should I need to, and the value he adds everywhere,” continued Tis.  “It’s a good boost for the players to have him there.

“He was a major factor to pushing Matt Grimes back into the team tonight – he did the session with him in the afternoon and talked him through making himself available.  Matt [Oakley] didn’t put a foot on the field but he played a large part in making Grimes available.”