City manager looks ahead to meeting with MansfieldWhen the Grecians lost to Mansfield Town at St James Park back in September, the result took them to the bottom position in the Football League.
To be sitting just two points shy of a play-off place in mid-January looked less than likely after that game, but that’s the reality for City after having improved drastically since then.
However the Grecians have been stuck on 37 points for the past three weekends, after consecutive defeats to AFC Wimbledon, Accrington Stanley and Northampton Town.
For manager Paul Tisdale, it is little surprise to him to see his side having peaks and troughs over a 46-game season – and he is hopeful that this weekend’s encounter at Mansfield Town will allow Exeter to get back on the upward curve.
“In a long season, you aren’t going to get a straight line towards where you hope to finish,” said Paul. “You’re going to get variances in form and results – and there are so many variables involved, it’s not just down to one thing.
“It can be the conditions, changes in personnel, what the opposition does or tries to do to play against you – there are all sorts of things that contribute towards results.
“It’s not two-dimensional – it’s a very complex situation and I’ve been doing it long enough to realise that you don’t become a very bad team in the space of a fortnight.
“There’s lot of good things about our game, and there’s no point going back over the last three games trying to rectify those problems, because it’s gone. We’ve got to look at the shortest route to get back on track and that’s what we work on.”
However the performances over the past three games haven’t merited the results that Exeter were getting in their pomp – and Tis has suggested that there may be opportunities for players that have been on the outskirts of selection in recent weeks.
The City manager is blessed with a squad nearing full fitness, but with three negative results on the spin it could signal an opportunity for those players that have been impressing in training.
An Exeter reserve team beat Swansea City’s under-21s by a 2-1 scoreline in South Wales on Monday, and Tis has suggested that that fixture may have more of a bearing on his squad selection this weekend than it might otherwise have done.
In particular Paul hinted that Jordan Moore-Taylor – who hasn’t started a competitive fixture since picking up an injury in early October against Coventry – may be in the ranks on Saturday.
“The team changes through circumstance such as players being injured or ill, and they change through tactics and a manager wanting to change the strategy and picking a different type of team,” Tis continued.
“Or it changes through performance for players playing poorly or players pushing to get in. For any player coming into the team, it is about opportunity and being ready and in good form when the door opens.
“I think we’re at a point where we’ve had a run of poor results and the door is ajar. You couple that with circumstances and injuries and maybe me looking at things a little bit different with the team at the moment.
“Then you look at the reserve game that we had on Monday at Swansea and suddenly the importance of that game is different than it was two weeks ago. That’s the business we’re in.
“Suddenly all those players that played at Swansea on Monday have an extra reason to be a bit sharper and stronger. There are a number of players that have an opportunity now, and it’s down to me and who I select.
“Jordan [Moore-Taylor] is now fully-fit – he has played two or three reserve games, he’s training flat-out, and there’s a bit of light now that he might get a game.”
The Stags had a change in the manager’s office just six weeks ago – Paul Cox departed, and 33-year-old midfielder Adam Murray was named as player-manager.
But Tis felt that City’s main focus will be on their own game and picking up their own performance.
“We have to take every side with respect, and we have to be prepared for a tough game whoever we play,” he said.
“I don’t know Mansfield’s team inside out – this is very much about how we respond after the last couple of results.”