Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says his side will “fly into the weekend” as they look to continue their push towards the top of the League Two table.
The Grecians welcome MK Dons to St James Park on Saturday, a side who sit one place above City in the table, and now led by Paul Tisdale who spent 12 years at the club, Matt is expecting a difficult opponent.
Ahead of the match, he said: “It’s a game of football and we want three points against a promotion rival. They’re a very good team, a team that has had a lot of success this season and will be in and around it come the end of the season.
“We’re on a good run in terms of our home form recently and we'll take the positives from the Cambridge game and fly into the weekend and give everything we’ve got. Hopefully we can pick up a positive result."
On the Dons, who have spent much of this season battling in the automatic promotion places, Matt says his side will have to take the game to their opponents as they go in search of an important three points.
The City boss also said he is hopeful for a positive, and respectful, atmosphere as the Grecians welcome back a number of former players and coaches, alongside Paul Tisdale.
He continued: “There might be a bit of a split in their home and away form. You know what their pitch is about at their stadium, it’s a difficult place to go and play because they dominate the ball.
“Away from home it’s slightly different and we’ve got to put our stamp on the game, we’re at home, we have to be on the front foot with high intensity attacking football and take the game to them. I want us to do that for the remaining 17 games of the season and try and win games, try and score goals. It’s never as straightforward as that and they’re a seriously good outfit.
“It’s all to play for this weekend and I just hope that the game goes through with relatively little amount of controversy and our fans are respectful to Paul, his staff and players.”
The Grecians go into the match following three clean sheets from their last four matches, which pleases the City boss, but Matt says his side will have to be on their game to keep up the positive run.
He continued: “We got another clean sheet last weekend and Pymy (Christy Pym) only had the one save to make where he came out and smothered the ball. We’re in a good place defensively but the moment you take your eye off the ball as a defender you get punished, it only takes one moment and MK Dons have got a serious threat at the top of the pitch, as have most oppositions at this level.
“We’ve kept working hard at the training ground this week, it’s been difficult conditions with the weather, but it might be very similar come this weekend. You hope in winter conditions, when the pitch isn’t quite at its best and there’s a bit of snow or wet weather around and wind, then defenders have to be on their game.
“We need them to be nice and tight, any mistakes at either end of the pitch will get punished. It’s a game which hopefully won’t be decided by a mistake, hopefully it will be decided by a bit of good play and a bit of quality, but you never know with football.”
The City boss also explained that his side have no fresh injury concerns going into the match with the long terms absentees still continuing their recovery in Hiram Boateng and Troy Brown.
“Dara has a slight niggle which he’s had for a couple of weeks now and we’re managing his body. Only the long-term absentees will be unavailable, we’re relatively unscathed from training this week and we go into this weekend confident.”
Jordan Tillson and Jimmy Oates have both recently departed the club on loan for the rest of the season, with the former joining Cheltenham Town and Jimmy returning to Hereford until the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
On the loans, Matt explained: “It’s a good opportunity for both of them to get minutes. They’re both great lads and good characters, I could have kept them both, but I couldn’t guarantee either of them starting 11 game time and Jordan Tillson certainly deserves game time and he’s a better player when he gets in a rhythm week in, week out.
“Cheltenham came in and it’s a good opportunity to play League Two football and he’s got another couple of years left on his contract so he’s very much our player and we’re looking for the future with Jordan, but I feel the next 17 games for another club might just benefit him more so than maybe a bit part with us. It was my decision as much as anyone else’s to let Jordan go out on loan and it’s important the fans know that as well. He’ll be a better player when he comes back at the end of the season, as will Jimmy Oates.”
On loan striker Tristan Abrahams also returned to Norwich City from St James Park as he goes in search of more game time elsewhere.
On Tristan’s departure, Matt said: “He made a good contribution, but he couldn’t quite nail down a starting position and might be slightly disappointed by the amount of opportunities and goals he got. Credit to him, he’s got a great character, a nice lad, and he trained well and effected the group in a positive manner. He’ll go back to Norwich with a view to a loan elsewhere and we just couldn’t quite give him the game time he deserves, but it’s another opportunity for another player to come in and take that position.”
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.