Midfielder previews a weekend visit to CheltenhamExeter City midfielder Matt Oakley is keen to take the Grecians’ unbeaten run to five on the bounce with a win this weekend at Whaddon Road.
Until December, the Grecians had never beaten Cheltenham Town competitively but a 1-0 victory at St James Park ended that record.
A win in Cheltenham on Saturday would make it a seasonal double for the Grecians over the Robins – and to date it has been a tumultuous season for the hosts, with Mark Yates and Paul Buckle both being shown the door and Russell Milton the current incumbent in the manager’s office.
Oakley is cautious of the threat that a struggling team can pose when they come out fighting, but is confident that Exeter can continue the recent good form with a win.
“Cheltenham are struggling a little bit and you’re not sure what you’re going to get from them at home,” Oakley said.
“They’ve been struggling all season and hopefully that continues with us, and we keep on our run and go into a very difficult but exciting Easter period.
“Whenever I play, I’m always more worried about the teams at the bottom. I always know that we’re going to play well against the top teams because it’s the natural thing that you do, to raise your game in the bigger games.
“They are struggling a little bit and they have had a lot of draws recently – that could be that they are working hard for those points, or that they have been unlucky in front of goal. Sometimes that can click and you can come unstuck.
“We’ll be wary of them but we’re confident and we’re in good form – so let’s go there and get three points.”
The game follows hot on the heels of a goalless draw in midweek with Stevenage at St James Park.
In a game that was contested heartily, it could represent a decent point for Exeter – but Oakley feels that that will all depend on how the Grecians build on that result.
“Off the back of two wins, we would have liked to have won the game,” Matt explained. “But I think if you were a neutral looking at it, they probably looked the more dangerous to score from something like a set-piece.
“I still think we were the better footballing side on the night but we cancelled each other out. If we get the results going forward, it’ll be a good point.
“If we miss out on the play-offs on goal-difference or a point, you’ll look back at Stevenage and think ‘we could have done with something there.
“But it keeps the run going and keeps the confidence in the team and we’re moving forward with momentum.”
Indeed there are some interesting match-ups in the Grecians’ final nine Sky Bet League 2 fixtures – Exeter still have to play Newport, Southend, Wycombe, Luton and Shrewsbury in the run-in, all of whom are higher-placed in the standings at present.
With another busy schedule coming over the Easter weekend, Matt hopes that City can enter that phase of the season on a good run to give Exeter a chance of being in the hunt at the season’s end.
“The Easter period is crucial for us, but we need to set that up with the next couple of games against Cheltenham and Morecambe,” he said.
“If we don’t do the work against them, those games aren’t really going to matter, because we aren’t going to be able to get back in there.
“But if we do get the points that we want from the next two games, then it becomes like a little mini-league and it’s who can come out on top and push in.
“Before you know it, it’s the end of the season – and if you’re in good form you can hit the play-offs. I’ve been there and we were in good form. I’ve had good memories of play-offs so I’d like to be there again.”