Tis: “Every team has strengths and areas to exploit”

Manager previews a trip to Oxford

Grecians manager Paul Tisdale is hopeful of recording back-to-back victories when Exeter City visit Oxford United this weekend.

After defeating Mansfield Town 3-2 last time out, Exeter look to keep up the pressure on the teams around the play-off zone and a victory against the U’s would go a way towards that.

The Kassam Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for the Grecians on a few occasions – no less than a 4-2 win two seasons ago, and a dramatic Conference play-off semi-final victory back in 2007.

However that history means little to Paul, who is just concentrating on how to get the job done this time around against and Oxford side that have lost each of their last three home fixtures and that will be determined to set that straight.

“There are so many games to be played and the competition levels are so high, and most teams are so evenly matched, that you do have to earn your wins – and we’ll be going into Saturday’s win with that thought in mind,” said Paul.

“It has been good [at the Kassam Stadium] in the past, but that counts for nothing this week.

“Every team will have strengths and they’ll have areas you can exploit.  We go into every game with a plan based on exploiting areas of any team – I’m sure we’ve all got areas that teams can focus on, and Oxford will be no different.

“I’m sure after losing their lead last week [to Southend], I’m sure they are going to be particularly driven to respond to that so we have to make sure that we aren’t caught out by a team’s backlash to a poor result.

“That’s what Oxford will be trying to do, regardless of who they are playing – it just happens to be us this week.”

When Oxford came to the Park earlier in the season, the Grecians and U’s occupied the relegation places in the early running.

Since then City have pulled clear and sit within reaching distance of the play-off places, while Oxford still remain just three points ahead of the trapdoor.

While a push to exit League 2 through the ceiling now looks unlikely for Oxford this year, Tis feels that they should be capable of challenging at the top end of the table soon.

“As a club, a team, and a group of coaches and players, you would imagine they would be a competitive team and I’m sure they will be,” he continued.  “I’m sure that in time they will be an effective group and they certainly have the potential to be.

“For whatever reason they are where they are – that doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to pull a performance together on Saturday against us.

“I think on paper you would expect at some point soon – whether that is this year or next year – Oxford to put together some kind of competitive team.  The wheels can start turning at any point and let’s hope it’s not this weekend.”

Defender Christian Ribeiro was an absentee last weekend at Field Mill, and Clinton Morrison had to be withdrawn after half an hour.

With no fresh injuries of note, and Pat Baldwin remaining the only long-term absentee, Paul could potentially have a near-full complement of players to select from in Oxfordshire.

“I would think [Christian] is pretty close,” Tis said.  “We’ll hopefully get through a few training sessions with him before we get to that decision – at the moment it is positive but not 100 per cent.

“Clinton Morrison will be fifty-fifty – he has got a lot better.  It’s muscle fatigue and the gradual wear and tear that you get from playing League football, and especially this time of the year – it’s nothing major.”