Exeter City v Colchester United: Match preview

Trust in talent and team continuity the key for Exeter’s recent form

Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale said he always trusted his players would turn around their season as they prepare to face Colchester United on Saturday on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run.

City welcome the U’s to St James Park sitting just four points behind their opponents, who occupy the final play-off place, with a game in hand.

It is a far cry from where they were when they last tasted defeat – away at Carlisle United in late November – when they found themselves bottom of the League Two table.

However, having only conceded two goals in the last eight games, and putting four past Leyton Orient and Newport County, City are on the up. However, that isn’t a surprise to Tis. 

“You’ve got to hold your nerve and trust in talent and I trust my players,” he said. “I never doubt talent and couple that with hard work and it looks like Colchester are doing the same. It’s going to be a tough game, there’s 20-odd games to go and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet.”

City took all three points when they visited the Colchester Community Stadium back in September with a 3-2 win thanks to goals from Robbie Simpson, Ollie Watkins and Joel Grant, but Tis suggests they can draw little from that game going into this one.  

“We are a different team now, in a different place and they are a different team in a different place,” said Tis. “We’re both playing a different way and we’re both in very good form. Three or four months is a long time in football, especially in a league like League Two.

“We’ve got a very challenging next three or four games and Colchester’s the first one. We take every game on its merit and we will be this week.”

City have had a consistent squad over the last few weeks which has coincided with this recent excellent form. The Grecians have had excellent strength in depth over the past few weeks which has aided Tis with his team selection.

“We have had a constant selection over the past couple of months,” Tis said. “We haven’t had to change too much and everyone knows their part in it. 

“There are players who are not in the team who would ideally like to be in there but at the moment they are satisfied that, for example, they have just returned from injury and they’re coming back to full fitness and they’re waiting for their opportunity but of course they understand when a team is winning they have to keep their head down and keep working.

“There’s a balance to the team, but also there’s a balance in terms of everyone’s expectations and where they understand themselves to be in that and everyone’s pushing for a first team place.

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know that you can never trust the next fortnight, you’ve got to earn it and that’s what we’re trying to do.”