Exeter City manager Matt Taylor is welcoming the return to League Two football as the Grecians look to get back on track with a win over Northampton Town on Saturday.
The Grecians have gone through somewhat of a difficult run in recent weeks with back-to-back defeats in the league preceding an early exit from the FA Cup.
But the City manager is in good spirits following the Grecians’ strong display in the Checkatrade Trophy in what was a 2-0 win for City, and Matt said his side are looking forward to getting back to league action.
Ahead of the match with the Cobblers, he said: “Off the back of a good performance on Tuesday night and the second half last weekend, we’re looking forward to getting back into League Two football. Obviously, Northampton come into it in good form, and are on a good run of results themselves. We’re looking for a good performance this weekend, taking the positives out of the last one and a half performances and come out flying for the game on Saturday.
City also welcomed back Chiedozie Ogbene on Tuesday night as he made his return from a ligament injury which had kept him out for a few weeks, and with the Brentford loanee impressing against Rovers as he supplied Jonathan Forte with an assist, Matt has welcomed his return to the fold.
Matt continued: “He was a little bit rusty in the first period (v Bristol Rovers) and he needed that hour of football in his system to make him available for the weekend. We’ve got bodies coming back and the squad is looking a little bit stronger, so like I say, we’re looking forward to this weekend.
“He (Chiedozie) has the raw, physical attributes which you want from any attacking wide player, he’s one of the quickest players I’ve seen. He needs end product as well, you saw that in fits and starts on Tuesday night, you probably saw a little bit of it before he got injured.
“He has to come and make an impact like he did when he first came in, he’s got to make a positive impact in terms of taking the ball and creating opportunities. He’s an honest lad in terms of his work rate and his commitment so I have no worries about putting him in at any stage.”
The City boss also hopes that the win over Rovers, which the Grecians looked solid in defence as they picked up a clean sheet, will give his side the confidence to take that level of performance into the match with Northampton.
“It was a different type of performance in that we had to be patient out of possession in the first half,” explained Matt. “We had to wait for our opportunities and we got field position in the second half, played a little bit more direct into the front boys and got value out of our attacking players.
"Then, all of a sudden, we earned the right to pass it high up the pitch off the back of doing the basics well. That’s what we’re looking for, you aim to start any game to get a clean sheet, and that’s going to be the same this weekend, we need a positive start, something to grab hold of in terms of lifting the fans and get into the game.”
If City are to get that clean sheet, they will have to stand up against a Northampton side who have hit a good run of form since the arrival of manager Keith Curle, and Matt is well aware of the threat that the Cobblers will pose.
He continued: “They’re a good team (Northampton.) We watched them several times under their previous manager and they had the players there, it was clear to anyone that watched them.
“They had the players there they just didn’t have a real structure to play off and, obviously, Keith Curle has gone in there and given them a structure. They won’t be too dissimilar to the Carlisle teams in the past, you look at managers from previous clubs, so we have an idea of what to expect.
“We watched them against Lincoln and Crewe, they’re a good team, but we’re not a bad team ourselves. We’ve picked up a couple of disappointing results but we’re looking to bounce back this weekend. They’ve got good players there, but so have we so I’m expecting a high-quality League Two game.”
Matt also says his side will be looking to turn out a positive display from the start to create a good atmosphere inside St James Park and replicate the second half performance that saw the Grecians almost pull of a dramatic comeback against Blackpool last weekend.
He said: “We had the momentum, it was positive, and you felt if the game went on any longer it was going to be us who would score, so that’s why we were so disappointed to concede three quick goals.
“If you concede one, you have a chance, if you concede two, then you have half a chance of getting back into the game, but the third one is a real killer blow. It happens very rarely that you get back from 3-0 down at half-time but if that game had gone on any longer, it was us on the front foot creating opportunities, that was the pleasing thing.”
🎟 UP NEXT AT SJP 🎟
Tickets are on advance sale for City's home match against Stevenage on Saturday, February 8 in a 3pm kick-off. Click here to buy now!