Nichols: “Our form has to improve”

Striker adamant that form must come – and soon

Grecians striker Tom Nichols is insistent that Exeter have to take matters into their own hands and forcibly get results in the coming weeks, starting with the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge to St James Park on Saturday.

City haven’t tasted a home win in League 2 since the Devon Derby against Plymouth Argyle in October, and consequently the focus now is on steering clear of the bottom spots in the table.

However Exeter are only three points behind AFC Wimbledon in 12th, and face the bottom-three trio of Torquay, Northampton and Accrington at St James Park before the end of the season.

But the 20-year-old feels that the City can’t keep waiting for things to fall into place, and that a win against the Daggers, by hook or by crook, is a must.

“The win against Plymouth was an awful long time ago – way too long in fact,” said Tom.  “Our form has to improve, there’s no doubt about that, and there’ll be no better time than against Dagenham on Saturday.

“The league table is very tight – a couple of wins and we could be back in the top half again.  You only have to at Plymouth – they got a few wins and they are play-off hunting now.

“We just need a win, and I’m sure the rest will follow, but we just haven’t quite been able to get over that line at home.  We just aren’t putting the ball in the net enough or keeping it out enough at the other end, but it’ll click together soon – it has to be soon – and then hopefully we’ll be a force to be reckoned with at home.

“It has to improve – we can’t keep saying that it will improve; it absolutely has to, otherwise we are going to be in trouble.  Dagenham is a big game and one we need to win.”

However as well as stressing the significance of getting three points, Nichols also explained the importance of making sure that City have the methods in place to secure those points.

He stressed the need for a focussed performance across the 90 minutes, and the need to relieve any pent up tension at the Park by playing the kind of football that the fans can get excited about.

“Dagenham have got some talented players and they aren’t going to be pushovers – we’ll need to be at the top of our game to beat them,” he continued.  “But we know we can beat anyone in this league – we don’t fear playing anyone.

“We’ve got to keep our concentration throughout the whole game, and everyone needs to be on top.  We’ve got a fit squad at the moment and we’ve got a lot of players to choose from, which is healthy for competition, but there’s no room for error.

“A lot of our problem has been that we’re getting anxious in front of goal, and when we don’t put the ball in the net or snatch our chances, then that puts the defence under pressure.  We haven’t been playing how we can and how we have been away from home.

“That can create an anxiety for the fans as well – they get anxious and in turn that makes us anxious.  But you saw on Tuesday night [against Burnley in the Under-21 Premier League Cup] that if you give fans something to cheer about, they’ll cheer.

“We need to give them that atmosphere by playing well – a couple of early goals would get the atmosphere going and we could drive on from there.”