Forward looks ahead to Oxford encounterGrecians striker Tom Nichols feels that the Exeter City team has a strong enough spine to keep challenging for the promotion places.
City travel to Oxford United on Saturday with the ambition of keeping pace with the rest of the pack at the top end of the table, and the potential to break back into the play-off positions with a win.
Many of Exeter’s victories during recent months have included a goal or more from Nichols, who took his tally to ten for the season during last weekend’s 3-2 win at Mansfield Town.
Yet Tom, whose goalscoring form has drawn the plaudits, was keen to emphasise that he is more than willing to do the dirty work so long as Exeter register a win.
“Tis has openly said that scoring goals is not enough to stay in the team, which is fair enough,” said Tom.
“I’ve got to add more to the team than goals – I’ve got to look after the ball, run channels, and do all of that. At the moment I am doing that, so hopefully I can stay in the team.
“Individuals don’t get promoted – it’s a squad game. It’s not just the 11 players that start each week – it’s the bench and the people that aren’t involved.
“It is a team effort and I think we definitely have got enough quality in the dressing room to get promoted, and hopefully we will.”
However he admitted that getting into double-figures was a pleasing achievement on a person level.
Tom opened his account for the season on the opening weekend against Portsmouth, but didn’t score again until he helped wrap up a 2-0 win at Morecambe at the end of October.
Since then he has been prolific in front of goal, netting nine times in just 11 Sky Bet League 2 fixtures. His goals to date this term have already eclipsed the seven goals that he had for the first-team before the beginning of the campaign.
“It’s nice to get into double-figures – and there are still 19 games left, so hopefully I can score a few more and keep playing well for the team, and we can keep winning,” he said.
“Strikers are there to score goals, but I’m happy with my all-round play as well at the moment, which is pleasing me more. We’re creating a lot of chances and thankfully I’m putting a lot of them away.
“I’ve always scored goals for the youth team and I’m just glad I can do it for the first team. So long may it continue.”
Tom’s tenth opened the scoring in a seesaw fixture against Mansfield Town at Field Mill. After his opener, the Stags scored twice to take the lead but Exeter replied in kind and Scot Bennett and an Alex Nicholls penalty got the three points for the Grecians.
With lots of tough games approaching against some of the challengers in the division in the coming weeks, Nichols is hopeful that the team can keep making ground at every opportunity, beginning at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
“[The win at Mansfield] was massive – that could be a big turning point in our season,” he continued. “It could have been four defeats in a row with things looking a bit bleak, but now we’ve taken a lot of confidence from that.
“The boys are flying in training again and hopefully we can go repeat that run where we had just one defeat in however many games, and get right up the table.
“We’ve got a lot of the top teams coming soon – we’ve got a hard run of fixtures and a few of them have a game in hand on us, so if we can pick up this win on Saturday it’ll give us a lot of confidence going into that run of fixtures.
“You just have to keep going – it’s a cliché, but you have to take each game as it comes and keep trying to pick up the three points. And if you can’t, you have to pick up the draw – because points are valuable at this stage of the season and you just have to keep building that total.”