Manager looks on to game against PortsmouthWith Portsmouth providing the opposition for Exeter City’s second game in the space of five days, Grecians manager Paul Tisdale felt that a lot of the preparatory groundwork had already been done despite the quick turnaround time.
Both City and Pompey had midweek fixtures on Tuesday, meaning that the dedicated preparation time for Saturday’s game at Fratton Park is shorter for both teams than it usually would be.
Andy Awford’s side were the visitors in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the 2014/15 season – Tis was on the bench that afternoon as part of a squad that was depleted by injury, illness, and a transfer embargo – and that fixture ended 1-1.
And the City manager felt that he and the coaching staff already have a good impression of Portsmouth and their style before they put together the final touches on their preparation for Saturday’s game.
“There is homework done – every now and then you have an image of a game that is coming up, especially second time around when you’ve played a team once already,” Paul said. “We’re into that part of the season.
“I’ve got an image of the opposition or the manager or the way they play. By definition there are plenty of teams that have lost their manager or changed their style or the way they play through management, so often that changes.
“But we’re playing Portsmouth this week, and I have known that the game is around the corner and there are a few thoughts I have in mind about the game. You don’t put too much into it because a lot can change in a week in football, especially when there are games on the Saturday and Tuesday leading up to it.
“I will see what’s around the corner, and sometimes you can group games together and address them as a block of games.
“Sometimes you might rotate the team, or you go from one game to the next and get the best team on the pitch as often as you can and march on. I think the most successful way of doing it is a combination of the two.”
With a stadium capacity of over 20,000, Fratton Park is comfortably the largest stadium in the fourth tier – and as recently as six seasons ago was hosting Premier League football a team that also reached the FA Cup final during that campaign.
Pompey’s fall from grace has been well-documented, but there is still an element of novelty about having a team of Portsmouth’s size in the division.
However Paul and the City team are by no means overawed by the historical reputation of the club – indeed City currently sit nine points ahead of Portsmouth going into the weekend – and sees the game as another opportunity for three points.
“Portsmouth are not a Premier League team – they are in League 2, and so are we,” he continued. “That’s not being critical towards any of our opponents – the fact is we’re playing League 2 football and we happen to be playing a team that have big support and a nice stadium.
“That’s their lot, not ours. We’re going to play League 2 football against a team that we consider we have a chance against.”
Ryan Harley returned from injury to start against Cambridge United in midweek, although David Noble and Scot Bennett were both out of action for a second game running.
Tis is hopeful of having the duo back available again for the game, bringing him closer to a full complement of players to choose from.
“We’re hoping that Scot Bennett and David Noble will be available for some kind of selection,” he said.
“That’s not guaranteed yet, but they’ll both come back into the reckoning, should they recover from their respective injuries and I hope they will be.”