Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says he wants his side to take the game to Colchester United as the Grecians look to bounce back from two successive defeats.
The Grecians will be aiming to fire themselves back into the play-off places this weekend, but they come up against a tough Colchester side who will also be looking to get back to winning ways following their defeat to Forest Green Rovers.
Ahead of the match, manager Matt Taylor said: “They (Colchester) played on Tuesday night and probably had a disappointing result. They’re a good team with some really good attacking players. We’re at home, we’ve got to take the game to them, we were disappointed with the way we started against Tranmere, we were slightly on the back foot and not quite where we needed to be and paid the price for that.
“We’ve got to give ourselves a chance in any game of football and hopefully we’ll do that against Colchester. It will be a good game of football with two teams who try and play the right way. They’re a team and a management group who I really respect. It’s all about the three points, I’d take an ugly win, and hopefully it’s a game where the fans can get behind us because we’ll need them.
“It’s those fine margins that you speak about at League Two level where there’s not too much between the two teams. I’ve said off the back of last week that we need to give our good players the chance to affect the game so I need control at the top and bottom end of the pitch and hopefully the personnel we’ve got on the pitch can do that this weekend.”
City go into the game following a midweek postponement against Macclesfield Town due to a waterlogged pitch, and despite spending the time travelling to and from the north west without playing, Matt hopes that the postponement of the fixture could help his side come Saturday as they continue their battle with injuries within the squad.
On the postponement, Matt explained: “It’s always frustrating when you’re up there and prepared for the game, but it might have been a blessing in disguise in terms of where we are bodies wise with a couple of players. It was a long journey up there and a long journey back for nothing, but it was a couple of extra days for those that needed a bit of rest or for those who needed some work on their gym programmes, and those who needed a bit of fitness work. We’ll find out this weekend whether it was a good thing or not, but it’s always disappointing when a game gets called off. It will be rearranged and it’s something we’ve got to look forward to.”
Last Saturday, Matt named Troy Brown on the bench following his lengthy lay off with a knee injury, and though not match fit in terms of minutes, the central defender could well feature in the first team soon.
“He’s still not had any game time in terms of reserve games or first team action so it’s a big ask to throw him into the first team in terms of starting games, but he’s on the bench for a reason,” said Matt.
“He’s going to be part of the squad this weekend for a reason. It’s great to see him back having been out for so long but I’d like him to get some minutes under his belt one way or another, if that’s with the first team, or the reserve game at Luton on Tuesday, which hopefully he’ll play a part in and get some minutes. He’s back ready to play, it’s just what state he’s in when he does play.”
The City boss also acted earlier in the week to bring back Jimmy Oates from his loan spell at Hereford. The full back headed to the Bulls in January and has managed to get game time under his belt and will come into the manager’s thinking ahead of Saturday’s match.
Matt continued: “He’ll come straight into the mix; Pierce (Sweeney) has an illness at the moment, so he’ll be away for a couple of weeks. Jimmy has had a good two months at Hereford where he’s got some game time and done well. We felt we needed a bit of extra cover in that position, Jimmy is a character and a physical player who can cope in certain areas where we’re lacking at the moment, so he knows the game and it’s great to have him back.”
Central defender Dara O’Shea was also called up to the Republic of Ireland’s under-21 side for his performances in recent weeks. The on-loan defender has managed to establish himself under Matt Taylor, and the City boss believes it’s a call up that he’s earned for his displays.
“It’s testament to Dara and the way he’s performed,” explained Matt. He had to be patient at the start of the season and then once he got the shirt, he has kept hold of it. He’s not been perfect by any means in terms of his performances, but he’s got an attitude and an appetite for the game and he wants to learn and develop.
“He wants to win the first contact and attack the ball, he’s mobile as well and a great character, we’re lucky to have him this season and it’s credit to Dara that he’s got the call up. It will mean that he misses a game, which is a bit of a blow for me, personally, but I can’t hold it against him, and I’m a proud manager in terms of what the club has done for him in terms of his development. He’ll go back to West Brom a better player, but hopefully he can have some success from us first.”
Looking at the League Two table the Grecians have the chance to get back into the play-off places with a win over United and if other results go City’s way. But Matt believes there are set to be more ups and downs ahead of the end of the season and he wants his side to put a consistent run together to pick up wins.
He said: “You saw on Tuesday that a couple won, lost and drew so it’s the way it goes this time of the season. Wins help a lot and if you can get two or three on the bounce it can really jump you up the table, like we’ve seen with Tranmere since they’ve played us, they’ve won a couple more games and, all of a sudden, they’re six points ahead of us.
“You have to try and put a run together and if you can’t quite do that then you have to pick up points where you can and give yourself a chance. Hopefully we’re going to get stronger as a group in terms of personnel and injuries, not just coming back, but getting more match sharpness and fitness under their belts. We’ve got to stay close to it if we can and give ourselves a chance that, when we’re fit and firing, that we’re close enough to affect it.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Mansfield Town on Saturday, March 30 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.