Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says his side have their eyes fully focused on taking on Crawley Town on Good Friday, despite having two games in four days in Sky Bet League Two.
The Grecians welcome Gabriele Cioffi’s men to St James Park tomorrow before they make the trip to Stevenage on Easter Monday, but the City boss wants to keep his side’s attentions on overcoming Crawley to claim an important three points in the race to consolidate a place in the play-off places.
Ahead of the match, the City boss explained: “We’ve got two games in the space of four days, but our thoughts are very much on tomorrow’s game. We’ve got to get Crawley out of the way first before we can even start thinking about Stevenage. We know what sort of test it will be, and the expectation will be on us to make the run in and it won’t be as easy as that. We’ve got to play on the front foot and give our fans something to cheer about and hopefully put in a performance.”
The Grecians go into the match following a 2-0 win over Port Vale last time out with an early goal from Nicky Law and a spectacular finish from Hiram Boateng doing the damage. City went ahead in that match within two minutes, and the City boss says he wants his side to start tomorrow’s match with Town in a similarly positive manner.
Matt continued: “You look to start every game at home as fast as that, but sometimes it’s not as straight forward as that. The ball doesn’t always fall your way, or a little bit of quality lets you down at certain times, or the opposition play and defend well.
“We always want to start on the front foot, we’ve done that generally as much as we possibly can at home. When you’re on the front foot you leave yourself open at times in terms of the back areas, but we need a positive performance, we need a lot of energy and tempo in our game to start with and hopefully the fans can play a big part in that.”
The Grecians come up against a Crawley side who will be buoyed from their important win at Yeovil Town last week as they continue to further themselves from the relegation places.
On the threat of Gabriele Cioffi’s men, Matt explained: “I think they (Crawley) are relatively safe, perhaps one point or one victory away from it. We’re fighting for different things, the pressure is still the same, top or bottom end of the table, but we’re in a good position in terms of where we are.
“We need to force that home in the next four or five days, keep picking up points when we can and keep taking opportunities that come our way. Crawley will be desperate for the points but no more desperate than we are. It will be two good teams going at it, both on the back of victories last weekend and hopefully it will be a good game.”
Generally speaking the City manager has little to worry about in terms of injuries at the moment with long term absentees in Troy Brown and Hiram Boateng returning to action well, and the side could also welcome back a few more faces for the visit of Crawley.
“Kane Wilson has done a little bit of training, so we’ve got to see how he is when he wakes up tomorrow. Luke Croll and Aaron Martin got through part of a reserve game on Tuesday, so they will come back into the fold,” said Matt. “Lee Martin’s results are relatively clear and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what happened to him at Macclesfield so hopefully he’ll be available.
“Some of them are trying to find their form and fitness to a certain extent. For the likes of Troy (Brown) to play three games in a week was a big ask. Hiram too to a similar degree, but I’ve got to be mindful of two games in four days and I’ve got to pick the right team. The team I’m picking tomorrow will be very much to win that game.”
With just four matches left of the regular Sky Bet League Two season, the Grecians currently occupy the final play-off spot in seventh place with a four-point gap on eighth placed Carlisle United. Despite that, the City manager is more than aware that his side must retain their focus on trying to take maximum points from the remaining fixtures.
Matt said: “The press asked me last weekend about having an eye on results elsewhere, but it’s certainly not at that stage. We can only concentrate on ourselves and what’s happening straight in front of us, and obviously our first test is Crawley tomorrow. The players have to be focused on themselves, it’s almost in our own hands in terms of what happens this season. It’s down to us and we’ll be responsible for that and hopefully we can have a positive one tomorrow.”
With the match falling on a bank holiday weekend, the City boss is also keen to see as many supporters as possible head to St James Park to cheer on the team, and he and the players are looking forward to meeting supporters after the final whistle in a signing/selfie event.
Matt continued: “I don’t know if having an early kick-off means there will be more or less people and it depends on how many go out tonight, I suppose. It’s forecast for a nice day and it brings more people out in Devon. We need all the support we can get; the fans have been absolutely fantastic at home. There was a slightly lower attendance for the Port Vale game, but they really got behind us.
“The players and staff will be walking round and there will be a poster in the programme for the fans to get signed by each player. Have the pens at the ready and we’ll do that as efficiently as we possibly can after the game, it’s a fan owned club and the relationship between the players and the fans is absolutely vital.”
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