Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale says he is looking forward to the atmosphere at LCI Rail Stadium on Saturday as the Grecians take on Cheltenham Town.
Nearly 700 visiting supporters made the trip up the M5 last season to witness City record a 3-1 victory in the early stages of a 12-game unbeaten run that helped spark the club’s rise up the table.
The fans made plenty of noise that day and Tis is hoping for more of the same this time around.
“Most teams wouldn’t call a three-hour journey ‘just up the road’ but for Exeter City it is,” he said. “We had a really good following their last season. It was different conditions.
“It was the middle of winter and pouring with rain but it was a brilliant following and I’m hoping for the same supporters to be as equally positive and supportive as they were last season and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about.”
City go into the game on the back of a good set of results. They have recorded two 1-0 wins at home – against Cambridge United and Lincoln City – either side of an impressive 1-1 draw with early season table-toppers Swindon Town.
So, with just one goal conceded in three games, has the club been working on their defence?
“It has been of focus of ours, but not that it hasn’t been before,” said Tis. “The team is evolving. It was only four outfield players, who played in the play-off final, started last week, so it just shows you that the team is evolving.
“That is through, no real choice – other than circumstances and players leaving – and that is what happens at a club like Exeter.
“So, it will evolve, players will have different strengths and it is my job to maneuver and get the best out of the players I have. I think we have done that ably well, in the last couple of home games especially with two 1-0 wins.”
Cheltenham have started the season with two defeats and one victory, against Crawley Town. However, they have also beaten Oxford United – in the Carabao Cup – and given West Ham United a stern test in the same competition on Wednesday night.
So, what is Tis, expecting from Gary Johnson’s team?
“I am expecting a team improved from last season,” he said. “Gary (Johnson) has now had time to settle his side into League Two. He has made some changes and I’m sure he has a better feel of what he needs and I’m sure he’s done it.
“I’d expect them to be a competitive side. They have had some good performances already. It is very early though, so it is hard to judge. I am not even judging my own team let alone anybody else’s.
“We are playing away from home, there is a slope, it is a tight kind of pitch – a bit like ours – and it is always energetic game at Cheltenham.
“I am expecting a good contingent of Exeter City supporters, as we always do with these matches, and a tough game. I’m looking forward to it.”
David Wheeler is a doubt for Saturday’s match as he is still recovering from a hefty challenge he took in the draw with Swindon while Ryan Harley and Dean Moxey are also unlikely to feature. Jordan Moore-Taylor should be fit for a return to the starting XI having missed last week’s victory over Lincoln City.
For our guide to the visit to the LCI Rail Stadium on Saturday, click on the following link.