Exeter City manager Matt Taylor is expecting a close match when the Grecians travel to Port Vale on Saturday.
City are on a good run in Sky Bet League Two as they sit second in the league table, but they come up against a Vale side who are unbeaten in three matches and have lost just once at home in the league this season.
With that said, the City manager believes City will have to be up for the test that the home side will pose them.
He said: “They’ve made a decent start and they’ve picked up some good results recently. They seem to have found a formula to play to and to win by. You go to Port Vale on a big pitch against a good opposition who will be firing right into you, it’s always going to be tough.
“Every time I’ve been to Port Vale, as a coach or as a player, it’s always been a difficult place to go and this weekend will be no different. They’re in good form, but so are we, I expect it to be a good game of football.
“They play a certain way and we respect that fully, we have to back ourselves in terms of if we put in a performance we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to take something out of the game.
“There are three big games coming in the space of a week, and the first is Port Vale, so all of our thoughts are on them. Hopefully the fans can make the journey and back us the best they can like they have done time and time again. We’ll need their support because it certainly won’t be easy.”
With the Grecians picking up three consecutive wins in League Two after bouncing back from consecutive defeats, Matt is generally satisfied with how the side have begun their campaign but eluded to the fact that there is a lot more football to be played between now and the end of the season.
“We’re doing okay after a fairly decent start,” said Matt. “The lads have done what we’ve asked them to and stayed honest throughout the campaign so far.
“It’s all about what we do in the future to be honest, we won’t rest on our laurels in terms of the start we’ve had, and we’ve got a tough week next week. There are some tough games coming up and we’ll be looking to take as many points as possible. We are in good form at the moment, and long may that continue.”
If the Grecians are to take maximum points away from Staffordshire, they’ll have to do it without a number of players who have suffered injury in recent weeks. Troy Brown looks to be out for a long period, and Matt revealed that Jimmy Oates is also set for a considerable time on the side lines.
Matt also gave an update on Craig Woodman’s injury situation as well as Lee Holmes, who limped off against Mansfield Town after picking up a knock.
The City manager continued: “Woody (Craig Woodman) is still a couple of weeks away and Jimmy (Oates) got a bad one on Tuesday night. I was disappointed for Jimmy because it was a big opportunity for him on Tuesday. He’s been excellent when he’s come in and played but it looks like he has torn his hamstring, so he’ll be weeks, if not months.
“Lee Holmes is still probably a week away from full fitness, he hasn’t trained fully with the group yet, which is disappointing because it was an impact one from Mansfield. At the moment, especially with three games in a week, you need every member of your squad fully fit and firing. But, we aren’t going to complain about it, it’s very much onto the next and we have a tough test this weekend.”
A player to have returned from injury of late, though, was Jonathan Forte who made a scoring return against Cheltenham Town as he netted the club’s 1000th league goal under Trust ownership, prior to netting twice in the Checkatrade Trophy win over West Ham United under-21s in midweek.
On Jonathan’s return, Matt says it’s hard to leave any member of his squad out, especially when they are scoring goals.
He continued: “It’s hard to leave any player out, but we’ve won games recently, we’ve won games without Jonathan and with him. There’s a reason why I’ve brought him to the club, I’ve said that time and time again, and I think the fans are starting to see that.
“He’s scored five goals already this season, his two on Tuesday were good finishes. We wanted to give him less game time on Tuesday with a view to the weekend, but the injury to Jimmy meant that he had to stay on and he’s a bit sore from that game.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.