Tis: “We’ll have a proper football match on Saturday”

Manager relishing the chance to take on the league leaders

David Flitcroft’s Bury side sit at the top of the pile in League 2 going into this weekend, and Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale is savouring the prospect of welcoming the side to St James Park on Saturday.

The table-toppers are unbeaten since the opening weekend and overcame former top-spot incumbents Burton Albion last weekend at Gigg Lane.

On paper, with the Shakers in devastating form, it looks the most difficult challenge that the Grecians will have had to face in their league campaign to date this term.  These kinds of fixtures, however, have often brought the best out of Exeter in recent seasons.

And Paul is looking forward to the challenge that they will bring, and to seeing how his team fare against another team that try to play football with a clear identity.

“It’s a different challenge,” Tis said.  “I don’t think we will always run the conventional path in League 2 – I think we’ll find certain games harder than others.

“Over the last two years, we’ve done well against the top-seven teams and the teams that end up getting promoted or into the play-offs.

“So don’t write us off this Saturday – but on the other hand I’m well aware of how good Bury are.  We played them at the beginning of April last season and they played us off the pitch at their place, and beat us comprehensively.   And they have improved their team since then, and have had longer to work on their patterns and play and it’s no surprise to me that they’re top of the table.

“We’ll have a proper football match on Saturday – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a League 2 game showing more inclination from two teams to pass the ball and play in a certain manner.  I’m really looking forward to it.”

Exeter still remain in 20th position in the table despite back-to-back wins over the past week.

However Paul feels that the Grecians are hitting their stride and will maintain their upward curve, if they can keep up their current level of performance.

He continued: “I keep saying it, but we were behind at the start and now we’re on the move.  So I think our league position is potentially false but that now comes down to us winning games.

“There’s no point bleating about it – we have to go on and get some good results over the next two or three months and get ourselves into mid-table and then see what happens.

“But we’re entitled to go into Saturday’s game with a bit of confidence.  We’ve earned it over the last three games with some good performance and I’m very much looking forward to the challenge.”

The team that defeated Cambridge and Tranmere within a week was largely unchanged, but for the injury to Scot Bennett at the Abbey Stadium.

And while the City captain is back in contention to play against the Shakers, Paul is prepared to tinker with his winning formula if injury concerns take their toll.

“To all intents and purposes if everyone is fit we’ll have the same team as we had against Tranmere,” he continued.

“However we have serious injury doubts to David Wheeler, Craig Woodman, David Noble and Graham Cummins.  Fingers crossed they’ll come through a fitness test on Saturday morning, and if not I’ll be forced to make changes.

“I’m going to be prepared for ‘what happens if’, but we’ll have the fitness tests on Saturday and we’ll still be ready to go.”