Paul looks forward to the visit of Accrington
Exeter City host Accrington Stanley on Saturday, with the incentive of winning a third straight game for the first time this season.
Following a win a week ago against Fleetwood Town – which brought to an end the winless run at home in emphatic fashion – and a derby win away at Plymouth Argyle in midweek, spirits are high in the camp.
A third win in eight days would put a very different complexion on the league table. A week ago Exeter were hovering precariously above the drop-zone, but now City are beginning to turn in the results that their performances are meriting.
For Grecians manager Paul Tisdale, the visit of Stanley offers an opportunity for City to turn their good form into another three points in front of the home crowd. Indeed, while the last two games have harvested a good return, it is vital for that to roll over to the remaining seven games.
“We’ve got a few incentives this week,” said Tis. “One is to win three games in a row, and continue our form and results to build that momentum. Another is to add another home win, so that last week [against Fleetwood] isn’t a one-off.
“And we are getting close to what we think would be a stamp of safety for the season. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but when you’re playing well, you’ve got to make the most of it. You’ve got to make hay while the sun shines. We’ve had a good week, but that’s it.”
Despite the need to focus on the forthcoming matches, Tis admitted that the last two games had been especially pleasing for everyone involved in the club.
“It has been a wonderful week,” he continued. “We have had a meeting [Thursday] morning with the players – it’s a few days before the Accrington game but it’s very important that we don’t rest on our laurels or think that we’ve done it.
“We have to make sure that we approach the game in the same way that we have done in recent weeks. It’s not just the last two games – we’ve done that over a period of time now. We’ve been excellent, and long may that continue.
“There is more than one reason to be pleased. The three points of course is always the priority, especially when you are in the lower reaches of the league. But to beat the local rival away from home really adds to it.
“And then on a personal note, also on the way we played. To have played with the level of freedom and composure that we did in a big derby game at one-nil down away from home in a relegation battle – that spoke volume for the nerve of the players.”
In terms of squad fitness, there are no concerns for the City manager going into the visit of Stanley.
Paul credited an injury-free squad as being a factor in some of the Grecians’ upturn in results.
He continued: “We’ve had plenty of things to worry about in the last month with our league position, and we’ve sat and spoken about our current strengths and weaknesses. But one of our current strengths is our level of fitness in the team.
“That means fitness in terms of ability to run and play at a sufficient tempo – but also that we have no injuries.
“We have players that are nursing certain things, but I remember going into the League 1 season a few years ago when we were relegated and we had an awful run of injuries – going into March we had most of our back-four missing, and I remember how hard that was.
“We have been very conscious of keeping players fit and keeping on top of them – the club physio Andy Proctor has been working very hard on conditioning work to prevent injuries, and touch wood, we’re in good fettle.”
In a tightly-contested league table, there is still work to be done to assure that the Grecians cross the line safely.
Paul is hoping that his players can use the final seven games to turn in some results and to give them a boost going into the summer break, so that the side can go into the 2014/15 campaign with confidence.
“These games are vital – not just to stay up, but to develop the team,” continued Tis. “It would be great to go into next season with a group of players that have had a very good last ten games, and they can use that as a springboard into the following season.
“We’re happy with our own emerging players, we’ll have players coming through from the youth team into the professional ranks, and we’ll have some players that emerge like Jordan Moore-Taylor, Matt Grimes and Tom Nichols all have to become first-team players.”