Paul previews a trip to Southend on SaturdayAhead of a Sky Bet League 2 encounter at Roots Hall against Southend United on Saturday, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale admitted that last season’s corresponding clash was still clear in the mind.
The Grecians won 3-2 at Southend as recently as last February, with a thunderbolt from Liam Sercombe and a well-worked finish from Eliot Richards enough to turn the tie on its head in the final ten minutes for a City triumph. It also marked a professional debut for goalkeeper Christy Pym, who now has 22 first-team appearances under his belt.
That game was the opposite of how the game played out the previous season, when Southend – then under the stewardship of Paul Sturrock – turned the game around in the final quarter of an hour.
Paul hopes that the experience of the most recent encounter, which he admitted left the Grecians’ dressing room particularly buoyant, will add a positive element to the City players that were involved that day.
“Last season’s win at Southend is fresh enough in our memories – it was only a little over six months ago and I think it’ll be fresh in the memory of both managers and sets of players,” said Tis.
“We’ll draw on some of the experiences of it and I’m sure they will. Often these things are diluted over a period of time with players changing and situations altering, but it’s very much still fresh with both sets of players.
“Both of the games when we’ve been there in the last couple of years have been very close and have been decided at the end of the game.
“I can remember Barry Corr scoring against us and a winner in the last five minutes [by Freddy Eastwood] two years ago, and then of course last year we won it ourselves. It just shows you games can be very tight.
“Christy made his debut there last year and he must have enjoyed it with a win. Players develop whether they are 35 or 18 – they develop in all sorts of ways, whether that’s experience, strength, technical ability or understanding of the game.
“We have some continuity in our side and I hope all the players that played in that game will go into this game with some kind of added value.”
With no new injury concerns to worry about and a number of players slowly getting back to fitness, Paul is a little less hamstrung on squad selection.
Graham Cummins, Craig Woodman, David Noble and David Wheeler all featured last week despite not being quite 100 per cent ready, but he hopes that they will be able to come in sharper this time around.
“It has been no secret that we have been suffering injuries recently, and it’s about getting your best players on the pitch as often as you can,” continued Paul. “We have little room for manoeuvre at the moment.
“We’re doing our job, improving our players, preparing for the game, and also keeping the players away from harm.
“Players are coming back and that can only boost the strength of the squad. Every week someone that is back from being out injured is fitter and stronger – you don’t just come back from injuries fully recovered, as there has been an element of de-training during that period.
“Anything over two weeks and you start to show signs of a diminished performance-level, and now every week they are back it will creep up again.”