Defender looks forward to Mansfield fixtureGrecians defender Christian Ribeiro is hopeful that Exeter City can prove their mettle in the coming weeks by reacting in a positive manner to some disappointing results in recent weeks.
A home reverse to Northampton Town last Saturday was a third straight defeat for the Grecians – but Exeter remain within touching distance of the play-offs, with the other top-half teams also finding consistency to be elusive.
Mansfield Town offer the newest opportunity for the Grecians to get three points when they travel to Field Mill on Saturday – the Stags have often been known for a physical and direct style, but Paul Cox was dismissed in November and Adam Murray was installed as player-manager. The change brought an immediate impact – a 1-0 home win against Plymouth Argyle in Murray’s first game – but Field Mill hasn’t seen a Stags victory since.
Ribeiro feels that City can prove that they are worthy of a place contesting at the top end of the table by putting in a response to recent disappointments in the coming weeks.
“I think [Mansfield] have been trying to change their style a little bit with the managerial change – they’re actually a big club with a nice stadium,” said Christian. “I’ve played there before and it’s bigger than you’d expect.
“It’s another great opportunity for us to go there – we’ve got a good away record and we’ve got to go and show what a good team we are.
“The best teams come back after they’ve had poor results, and that’s what we’ve got to be. If we want to have a positive season, we’ve got to be able to come back from setbacks and that’s a great opportunity that we have this weekend.
“Teams in the bottom half of the table would love to swap positions with us – every time we face these teams they’ll really be trying to drag us back into the mix with them.
“That’s the same with every game – every game is highly-contested and close, and we’ve got to try our best to come out on top.
“They beat us in the first game which gives us a little incentive to make sure they don’t do the double over us.”
He also feels that having experienced heads in the dressing room will be an important factor in keeping chins up.
Many of the younger players gained knowhow by helping to negotiate City’s successful battle against the drop last season, and the arrival of veterans such as Clinton Morrison – whose permanent deal was announced on Thursday – has added value to the dressing room too.
He continued: “We’ve got loads of experienced players here – our team now is very much an older team when you look through it. They’re going to drag us through it and keep the morale high. We’ve still got really good staff and really good players here.
“Okay, we’ve hit a bit of a bump – but if you look at the league table, loads of teams are around us because we’re still really close to the play-offs even though we’ve lost the games that we have.
“So we’ve got the opportunity to take each game as it comes and get back to where we were. We’ve shown already that we’re good enough to compete with the highest positions in the league and that’s where we’ve got to get back to.”
City trailed Mansfield by seven points after they met earlier in the season at St James Park – and in the 19 League 2 games that have followed, City have managed a 17-point swing to sit 10 points clear of the Stags ahead of this weekend.
“I think if you looked at where we were in the first month of the season compared to where we are now, you would have snapped a hand off – obviously we’re all disappointed that we’ve had a bit of a poor run of form over the last couple of games, but that’s how it is,” said Ribeiro.
“Hopefully we can turn it round and make sure that this is just a little blip – there are always things that we have to work on, and we weren’t perfect in the games that we were winning. Games hinge on little moments. Hopefully we’ll get the rub of the green this weekend.”