City manager looks ahead to Luton Town fixtureThe Grecians may be one of the most in-form teams in Sky Bet League 2 – however Luton Town top both the form table and the table proper at present.
The Hatters have won their last seven league games on the spin, and have rocketed to the crest of the division after what was a fairly uncertain start to life back in the fourth tier.
John Still, who took to the manager’s chair just over 18 months ago, was the fifth permanent appointment since the club dropped down into non-League in 2009, and did what the others couldn’t by guiding them back to the Football League.
And it hasn’t been a big shock for Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale to see Still’s side in the running for a consecutive promotion after romping to the Conference title last year.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Paul said of Luton’s current run. “They’ve got good management, a hard-working team, they know their jobs and they put the ball into the right areas. They are good at the percentages and I don’t think we’ll have an easy game. Whichever way it goes, even if we have a good day and they have an off day, it’ll still be close.
“What we can derive from all the debate and preparation is that we’ll have to be at our very best to win the game.
“The Conference is a tough league to get out of, as we know here at Exeter. They have got good financial backing, they’re a good club with a good crowd and they are worthy of League 1 football at least.
“But with all that, you still need a good manager to make good decisions and point the energy in the right direction and get everyone pulling together, and John Still has done that. It’s no surprise to me or people in the game that he has done that.
“He is streetwise and understands the league and how to put a team together. They’ll be competing at the end of the year and he’ll get the very best out of his team. He doesn’t need any star players or any flamboyance – he needs players that will play for a team, and he’s got that.”
Amazing, it becomes the third time that Exeter have hosted the incumbent league leaders at St James Park already this season.
Both Bury and Wycombe were beaten by a 2-1 scoreline at SJP during their recent visits to Devon – and Scunthorpe United also sat at the top of the table when Exeter were 2-0 winners at the Park at the back end of last season, ending Russ Wilcox’s run of 28 undefeated games.
At closer inspection, it is less coincidental than it may look – the reason there has been a new leader from week to week is in no small part because of the Grecians’ results against the high-flyers.
Paul continued: “We’ve played a part in that, because we’ve beaten Bury and we’ve beaten Wycombe. We’ve knocked them off the top spot, so it’s not all coincidence.
“It’s the third game that we’ll play against a team that have just gone top of the league, and I suppose it’s our target to beat Luton and make it three from three in that regard. Maybe Shrewsbury will be top of the league in a few weeks’ time.
“We have a good opportunity, we’re in good form, and we should be confident. Everyone that played last week is fit again, so we’ve got a settled team.”
News came from Bedfordshire as early as Monday that the Hatters had already sold the entirety of their ticket allocation for the game.
With tickets for the home sections selling well as well, it looks set to be a big occasion at St James Park on Saturday.
“It’s always best when the Park is busy,” Paul continued. “We pack a fair number in there and I’m hoping we get towards 5,000 as we did for Portsmouth at the beginning of the season.
“The more the better really. Surely our supporters have every reason to come and cheer us on –there’ll be a thousand or more Luton supporters, we’re on a good run, we’ve got a good chance of progressing up the league – what better time to come and watch City?”