Manager looks ahead to a visit to Hartlepool UnitedWith Exeter City visiting Hartlepool United on Saturday, Grecians manager Paul Tisdale is anticipating an intriguing fixture between two teams with plenty to play for at either end of the Sky Bet League 2 table.
Hartlepool have two games left to try and guarantee that they don’t drop out of the Football League for the first time in their history, while Exeter still have an outside chance of securing a play-off position and extending the season beyond May 2nd.
Pools, who currently lie above Cheltenham and Tranmere, have their fate in their own hands. The Grecians conversely need results to fall their way elsewhere in the division if they are to achieve their seventh-place aim.
The home side’s situation isn’t too dissimilar to the one faced by Exeter 12 months ago, which saw the Grecians win on the penultimate weekend to ensure survival and to set up a dead-rubber on the last day at Victoria Park.
“We both have reasons to win and we both have our motivation,” Paul said. “Theirs is very different to ours and I can empathise because we were very similar last year going into our last home game of the season on the penultimate weekend.
“So I know what it feels like, and we are going into the weekend with the same purpose as them but with a very different possible outcome.
“There will be no let-up from either side and I hear there is going to be a very good crowd – they are encouraging a packed stadium there. And it is very good pitch; they look after their playing surface very well and I’m looking forward to the game.
“It would be very good to take it into the last game. It would give an extra edge – the last game is always a particularly big occasion and we would like to give it something extra to make it exciting.
“That’s our task, but we are relying on others – so to be frank about it, we could win comfortably on Saturday but still be out of it. We are at the mercy of other results but it’s better than being where we were last year. I’ll certainly take this situation.”
In many respects, the pressure for a result is off Exeter. With two games remaining, it is the teams in the commanding positions which are there to be shot at and with the greater weight of expectation on their shoulders.
However Paul wants to make sure that his side get a maximum return from the final two Saturdays so that they are ready to steal in if other results drop their way.
“I’ve encouraged everyone to take a step back and take the tension out of the week,” Paul said. “We’ll pick it up again for Saturday, but we’ve stayed away from the discussions.
“We gave so much effort at such a consequence with injuries against Wycombe and Southend and came out with no points.
“I don’t quite know how we managed no points from those two games, but that’s the reality of it. We tried to win both games and we were close to winning both, but that shows you what a topsy-turvy league it is. It has been all season.
“As a result, you never really know what’s around the corner. There is certainly no cause for giving up and dismissing our play-off chances. They are certainly more unlikely than they were a week ago, but you just don’t know what is around the corner.
“When you look at results over the last six to eight weeks, you know that literally any team can pull out a result. They might just all go our way on Saturday, and if they do all go our way we need to make sure we do our bit too.”