Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says he and his squad will be taking one game at a time as they prepare to go into a busy festive schedule.
The Grecians travel to Oldham Athletic on Saturday before welcoming Yeovil Town on Boxing Day and then Grimsby Town on December 29 which precedes a trip to Swindon Town on New Year’s day.
And despite a busy fixture list awaiting his side, Matt believes it’s important to concentrate on the next game rather than looking too far ahead.
The City boss explained: “It’s a busy period and there’s lots of points up for grabs. We don’t want to look too far ahead, we’ve got to take care of the first game in front of us and that’s Oldham this weekend.
“We don’t look too far ahead, you’ve got to play the first minute and the first action which is in front of you and that’s going to be the first 30 seconds of the Oldham game. When that’s finished, we’ll look ahead to Yeovil and then Grimsby. Everyone’s focused on being fit and getting fully prepared for the weekend and when that’s done, we’ll look to Boxing Day.”
The Grecians travel to an in-form Oldham side who haven’t tasted a league defeat since November 3 and have been free flowing of late with their last result a 4-2 win over Bury.
On the trip to Boundary Park, Matt explained: “It’s a long journey up there against a team in form, certainly a good team at home in recent weeks, so it’s going to be a tough test. We’ve picked up a little bit of confidence on the back of last week’s positive result, but we go to Oldham looking for another positive result.
“It will be a physical, quick, game against a good team who will play the ball forward into our backline and pick up the second balls. They’ve got some really good attacking threats that have scored a lot of goals recently and showed what a good team they are.
“I went to watch them in their FA Cup game at Maidstone which was a really tough test for them on an artificial pitch, so I’ve got an idea of what’s coming, we’ve watched the game against Bury last week and the previous fixtures. We’re under no illusions about how difficult it’s going to be, but we’ve put in some good away performances ourselves this season.
“We’ll need to be resolute, strong, and we’ll need to withstand a bit of pressure, but we’ve got to play as well, we’ve got to take the pressure off ourselves by using the ball wisely and retaining possession when we need to. It will take a little bit of everything, as it always does, to pick up a positive result away from home.
City’s last trip away from home saw them fall to a 2-0 defeat at Bury, but after putting together a spirited second half display there, Matt says his side will have to perform for the whole match if they are to get back to winning ways away from home.
He continued: “We didn’t really give ourselves too much of a chance at Bury despite the opportunities to get back in the game. We need a 90-95-minute display similar to the Mansfield and the Colchester games. It will still be difficult, they will still have their opportunities and I’ve always said, when you go away from home, your keeper and your back four are going to have to stand up to it and play well, and those boys in front have to shield those players and also hurt the opposition at every opportunity."
The City manager will have a reasonably healthy number to choose from on Saturday with long term injured players Troy Brown, Hiram Boateng and Alex Hartridge still side-lined, as is Luke Croll who has picked up a knock of late.
Matt said: “Luke Croll is a couple of weeks away unfortunately, and Hiram is not as close as we’d like him to be, the injury has always been a complicated one with him. I’ve said in the past that we can’t rush him back too soon. He’s tried to start training with the squad, but we’ve had to pull him away from that because he’s still got pain in the area, so that’s disappointing news but injuries are part and parcel of it. We’re still hoping to have all players back fit in the next few weeks, it’s just the Christmas period has come a little bit too soon.”
With the next four games coming in quick succession it gives sides the chance to pick up points going into the new year, something Matt and his players are keen to do in the coming weeks.
“It’s four games, there will be another four games after that and so on and so forth. There’s lots of points up for grabs,” said Matt.
“We’ve stayed close enough to it despite a poor run, we’ve got a lot of games in quick succession so there are a lot of points to potentially pick up in the next couple of weeks. You’ve got to take every game as it comes and then come the end of January you get a better idea of where you are in the league position going into February and March and then obviously the finish in April. You’ve got to give yourself a chance of being in the right place at the right time come the end of the season.”
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