Midfielder to use his experience as a calming influence on younger players
Matt Oakley hopes that his experience can be used to Exeter City’s advantage ahead of the Grecians’ play-off semi-final second leg against Carlisle on Thursday.
The veteran midfielder was speaking after City drew 3-3 with Carlisle in the play-off first leg. With the scores evenly poised, Matt recognises that his experience could be important in calming any nerves ahead of Thursday’s vital clash.
“I try to take responsibility for passing on something to the younger players,” said Matt.
“Whether that’s knowledge or whatever it could be for them
“If I can play my part on Thursday and hopefully give the younger players a calmness to the game then I will try my best to do that.”
Having achieved success throughout the divisions at clubs including Leicester City and Derby County, the 39-year-old even boasts an FA Cup final appearance for Southampton in 2003. However, Matt emphasised the importance of Thursday’s match, labelling it as no less significant than his cup final appearance.
“I’ve been privileged to play in an FA Cup final but this game is just as big,” he said.
“It’s what I’m doing and it’s what my team-mates are doing now. You have to play the moment.
“I’m not going to treat this any lower than that final. The players are prepared to play these big moments and, hopefully, we will get over the line.”
A sell-out crowd is expected for Thursday night’s game and Matt hopes that the Grecians can take inspiration from their 2-2 draw with Liverpool in last season’s FA Cup when there was a full house at St James Park.
“The atmosphere was electric against Liverpool with a sell-out crowd turning out under the floodlights,” he said.
“We produced a wonderful result for this football club and hopefully we can do the same on Thursday.”
Matt went on to warn his team-mates that there is not room for any more complacency in Thursday’s second leg. He said that City must reflect on why their two-goal lead was allowed to slip at Brunton Park to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We will re-focus for Thursday. We must look at the things we did well, and the things we did badly,” said the midfielder.
“Carlisle are a very difficult team to play against. We’ve played them a couple of times this year and allowed them to get back into games. We can’t allow that on Thursday.”