Manager previews visit to ShrewsburySince getting relegated to Sky Bet League 2 last summer, things have largely gone swimmingly for Shrewsbury Town, who host Exeter on Saturday – in particular on their own patch.
The Shrews won just six league fixtures at Greenhous Meadow last season, and were eventually relegated. But while the likes of fellow relegated sides Tranmere and Carlisle are now battling against successive drops, Micky Mellon’s men look set to return to League 1 in one of the automatic positions.
Their home results have been the platform for their rise their current position as second in the division – Northampton became the first and only team to date to take three points in the league this year with a 2-1 reverse in February, although Premier League outfit Chelsea had also triumphed by the same scoreline in the Capital One Cup in October.
City were 3-2 victors in a thoroughly entertaining game against the Shrews at the Park earlier in the year, and while manager Paul Tisdale is well aware of the size of the task of repeating the result, he isn’t writing off his team’s chances – especially as Exeter’s recent form is a match for any team in the division.
“They are a very good side at home – they have a terrific record,” said Paul of Shrewsbury. “When you’re at the end of the season, there are a lot of matches there that prove that record.
“I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be probably the toughest task we’ve had this season away from home, and if you just look at the statistics they are the hardest team to beat away from home.
“Shrewsbury are the best team I’ve seen in this league this year, closely followed by Bury. Both have good squads, they’re physically strong, and they have players that can play technical football and are encouraged to play with freedom.
“But I don’t think we should discount our chances. We know it’s going to be difficult but we have a capable group of people that will give it a lot of thought, and we’ll give ourselves as much chance as anybody.
“We have had a mentality about us over the last six or seven weeks that we have everything to play for but nothing to lose. I think we have been very effective with the way we’ve played and I’m not going to change that going into this game.
“We’re still not into a play-off position yet so we still have everything to play for. We’ve shown a lot of good performances off the back of the past six or seven weeks.”
Wins against Luton Town and Newport County AFC over the Easter weekend are the reason that promotion hopes are still alive at this stage of the season for Exeter, and Paul gave the players a bit of respite after a demanding couple of days.
And he feels that the team will be reenergised and ready once kick-off comes at Greenhous Meadow.
“It has been good to switch off from it – it was a big weekend, and we built into the Luton game from the Wednesday,” continued Paul. “It was a big five days really.
“It is the mental energy really as much as the physical energy – we all need a bit of times away from things. There have been a few players in to work for training, but in terms of a team session we reported back on Thursday morning.
“So we’ve had a couple of days off from the nitty gritty – and we’re well aware that we have to build up again for Saturday. We have difficult fixtures coming up the week after too with Wycombe and Southend.
“We have given ourselves a chance now, and now we have to see if we can take our chance. But we couldn’t have a tougher week ahead of us.”