Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says that the side is in a good place mentally and physically going into this game, despite a run of eight games without a victory in Sky Bet League Two.
The Grecians have had some tough assignments in that run and suffered a couple of missed penalties and unfortunate goals against them in that time.
However, having dropped from second in the table to ninth during that run, belief on the outside has started to wane slightly but Matt says the dressing room remains upbeat and positive going into a busy festive period.
“Certainly, on the outside, from the run of results we have had, belief starts to dwindle a little bit, but we are positive that going into this weekend we are in a good place mentally and physically,” said Matt.
“We are going to give it everything we have got and hopefully get a positive result and then we go to Oldham feeling a little better about ourselves and everyone is a little bit more settled down and then you going into the Christmas period and it is something to look forward to.”
“We are not hiding away from the run of results,” added Matt. “We have got to be better than what we have shown, certainly in recent weeks.
“I’m sure it will change on the back of the players we have got at our disposal plus in the games that we are referring to it has been fine margins. You look at Bury last weekend, who are a top, top team at home, and we were those missed opportunities in the second half and a penalty away from getting something out of that game.
“However, we have got to stop shipping in poor goals, goals which we feel we can prevent. We work so hard to create chances and opportunities for ourselves and we have got to make it the same for the opposition by not giving them any cheap goals. That gives you just that bit more belief and confidence and that is what we will be looking for this weekend - a positive start that everybody can get behind and hold onto and hopefully the confidence will start flowing back.”
Matt will be without Hiram Boateng for Saturday’s match. The defender featured in City’s last League Two win, a 3-1 victory over Swindon Town on Saturday, October 13, but hasn’t featured since because of a hip-flexor injury.
“Hiram (Boateng) is still not where we need him to be yet,” said Matt. “I said last week that the last two weeks of his comeback are the most important in terms of him kicking the ball and his football movement.
“He is training with the squad but he has still got a bit of a pain in the area, from the original injury, so we are monitoring him. We want him to be back as soon as he can but we have got to be mindful because we don’t want to extend the length of time that he is out by injuring him again. It is a trickery one with Hiram, but we will wait to see how he reacts over the next 10 to 14 days.”
Asked if there was a significant link between Hiram’s injury and the drip in form, Matt added: “Possibly. He is a good player at this level. He gives you a real threat in an attacking sense. He is one of the players who can receive the ball in tight areas and wriggle out and then he has got the pace and power to leave defenders behind.
“He was our leading assist maker before he got injured so that shows you where some of the goals have come away from our team.
“However, in some of the games he has missed we have created chances. It has just been that end product, that final ball or that luck in front of goal and we are looking for that to change and we will work on it as best we possibly can.
“A lot of the games we have spoken about we have gone behind in as well. It is always harder and more difficult to break a team down when they are sat in shape. So we have got to score the first goal and if it remains at nil we have got to keep backing ourselves that we are going to create chances and stick to the process and not panic too much and keep the responsibility and the game outcome in our own hands.”