Manager looks ahead to a Luton and busy EasterExeter City enter the final full month of the season five points away from a play-off position, and with some daunting-looking fixtures on the cards in the near future.
The next five games are against teams that are all in with a shout of promotion – beginning with Good Friday’s trip to Luton Town.
However none of those five teams have beaten Exeter so far this year, and Shrewsbury and Wycombe – who currently occupy automatic positions – left St James Park empty-handed earlier in the campaign.
Therefore manager Paul Tisdale holds no fear at facing some of his teams promotion-rivals, and in fact hopes to triumph in the so-called ‘six-pointers’ in the next few weeks.
“You’ll look back over the last two or three years and you’ll see that our record against teams in the top seven has always been very good,” Paul said. “It’s probably better than any other section of the league actually.
“We know that at this stage in the season that we have everything to play for – as do other teams. Actually things are in our own hands – we have games in front of us and we can beat teams that are in a similar position to us that are fighting for the same points.
“So we actually have everything to play for and it is an opportunity to take points off other teams at the same time.
“I’m not concentrating on too much on where those teams are standing in the league. We know they are difficult games anyway and we back ourselves against anybody.”
The Hatters are on a remarkably poor streak of results – they have lost eight of their last nine Sky Bet League 2 fixtures, and last weekend dropped out of the top-seven for the first time since October.
However seven of those eight games have been decided by the odd goal – only a 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth has seen Luton defeated by a wider margin.
Luton had a ten-point lead over Exeter in mid-November, but an away win at Kenilworth Road would put the teams on level points.
However despite the current run of results, Tis is expecting to find Friday’s hosts to be fully-motivated – but hopes their woes can continue for another weekend.
“At some point John Still will reverse the trend – that’s of no doubt,” he continued. “It’ll happen at some point and I’m hoping it won’t be this Friday.
“You can either get a team in this situation who continue to slump, or you’ll get a team who fights back and will bite you.
“The fact of the matter is they are still ahead of us in the league and they have as much to play for, if not more, than we do.
“I’m not expecting a team that has given up, that’s for sure. We can only concentrate on our own game and make the job as hard as possible for Luton to recover their form.
“It is a very close league and you can have five games of good form and five games of bad form without too much being different. It’s just the small details or the turn of fortune or confidence, or whatever it is.
“I don’t think for one minute that it is going to be an easy game. I’m expecting a Luton team that is trying their very best.”
There will be a few late calls for the Grecians in terms of selections – Tom Nichols will certainly be an absentee as he begins the first game of his suspension, but other knocks and niggles have others in doubt too.
Tis admitted that a few of the selections might go down to the wire.
“It is a very changeable team in terms of availability and fitness and the players I have in front of me to select,” he explained.
“It is typical of this time every year – at the Easter weekend the games come thick and fast and it’s that time of the year when the ground is beginning to dry up and the surfaces are changing and players can pick up injuries. And we’ve got a lot of competitive games.
“The truth is that I don’t really know – there are too many unknowns at the moment to really establish the team that I’m picking.
“We’ve got a few doubts with Tom McCready and Liam Sercombe, and we know that Tom Nichols is suspended. Clinton Morrison is another one that hasn’t trained all week.
“Hopefully otherwise we have more or less a full squad to pick from other than the long-term absentees Pat Baldwin and David Noble. We’re hoping Christian Ribeiro is going to come through training ahead of the game having come off in the last game.
“But we have five or six players there that we are yet to establish whether they’re fully-fit and we’ll have to go to the last minute to find out.”