Manager previews visit to Whaddon RoadAhead of a visit to Cheltenham Town, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale stressed that his side have to be prepared to take on a Robins side playing to capacity.
Away draws in the last week at Newport and Portsmouth have represented a good week for Cheltenham – although a shock trio of away wins for bottom-three sides Carlisle, Tranmere and Hartlepool on Tuesday dragged the Whaddon Road side back into the relegation zone.
With nine games left to play for all teams in the division, most clubs will still feel that they have something to compete for at one end of the table or the other. Cheltenham, who now have Russell Milton in charge after Mark Yates and Paul Buckle were successively dismissed, are scrapping to retain their Football League status.
And Tis knows from experience that difficult times can be a galvanising factor, and that his team can’t expect to be gifted anything despite the hosts’ lowly position in the table.
“We have to go and play against a competitive team – they have had a good month and they have been very close in all the games they have played,” said Tis.
“I understand that situation and I’ve been there once or twice myself, where there is a huge amount of pressure on every game.
“It looks to me like a side that is trying very hard for each other and they are competitive and close in every game. Every point means so much to them.
“I empathise with that. I’ve managed teams in those sorts of situations once or twice, and I understand that there’ll be no easy game for anyone else either because there is so much to play for.
“They have had two very good draws – bizarrely they will have come off on Tuesday night and seen that other results went against them – but they have had very good results at Newport and Portsmouth, which shows you that they are in a very competitive mindset at the moment.
“There is a lot between us and winning three points on Saturday – and that’s Cheltenham and their desire for the same.
“The bottom line is that Cheltenham have so much to play for and we can’t take anything for granted on Saturday.
“They have had an unsettling season, with their third manager in charge – but it is all about Saturday.
“Any team can put in a big performance on any day, and we have to assume Cheltenham will put in their best on Saturday and be ready for it.”