Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says he is aware of the threats that Keith Curle’s Northampton side will pose on Saturday but wants his players to play their game as they seek to continue what has been a good run of form in recent months away from home.
The Grecians go into the match looking to bounce back from the narrow defeat at home to Tranmere Rovers last time out, but prior to that they picked up a win at Crewe Alexandra and a draw with top of the table Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.
But despite picking up points on their travels in recent weeks, Matt is expecting nothing less than a tough match at the PTS Academy Stadium.
Ahead of the match, Matt said: “Off the back of the Crewe victory, and coming so close at Lincoln, we’ve been playing really well away from home. It seems to have suited us to a certain extent, soaking up a bit of pressure and then hitting teams on the counter attack, but also the good surfaces we’ve played on away from home.
“Northampton will hopefully be the same, but it’s all about the points at this stage of the season. I’ve got to get a fully fit and fully motivated squad out there on Saturday and not look too far ahead in terms of the Tuesday game (v Macclesfield.) We know how tough it will be at Northampton, they’re a team in form, but away from home we’ve been playing well.
“They’ve (Northampton) got some good players, a team that we watched a lot at the start of the season, and they were underachieving because they have some seriously good players in that squad.
“They’re hitting form at the right time and the manager has got them going, so they’re a good team, a strong team and a physical team who will put a lot of balls into our box. We’re going to have to defend but play our way, and the Exeter City way, and try to hurt the opposition at every opportunity.”
The Grecians have had a full week to rest and prepare for the match and Matt will be looking for an improved physical performance from his side after they slipped up against Tranmere last time out.
He explained: “We were so disappointed with the way we were dominated physically against Tranmere. They were quick to the ball and we gave ourselves a severe task to overcome but we were so close to doing it and creating those chances the opportunities were there.
"We almost felt like we were playing against 10 men in that second period because we were on top and Tranmere never really got out of their half or their box. We just couldn’t get that all-important goal and if we’d have scored then maybe we’d have pushed on for the winner. You never want to lose games at home so it was really disappointing.”
But as the Grecians set themselves up for three matches in quick succession as they travel to Macclesfield Town shortly before entertaining Colchester United at St James Park the following weekend, Matt believes the Grecians have an opportunity to get more points on the board as they look to sustain a push towards the top end of the league table.
He continued: “It seems like every week we’re playing someone close to us or in and around us but that just shows how tight it is. From third or fourth down to 14th or 15th it’s really tight. We’re happy to be fifth in the league but we certainly want more in terms of results and points and hopefully we can do that because three games in a week is always a good opportunity to pick up points. First and foremost, it’s about Northampton and it’s a difficult game to go in to but one that where we’re more than capable of picking up points.”
The Grecians have been hit with a number of injuries in recent weeks to members all over the squad, and Matt admitted that more changes could be made come Saturday, but the City boss was keen to highlight the boost to the squad in the form of Hiram Boateng.
The dynamic midfielder, who has missed a large chunk of the season through a hip injury, made a return against Lincoln City from the bench and also played a small part last weekend. And after coming through 65 minutes in a reserve match, the 23-year-old could well feature for City.
The City manager explained: “There are a few bodies coming back, the big positive this week is Hiram getting through 65 minutes of a reserve game, and scoring. He still might not be ready to start a game but he’s certainly an option off the bench and with three games in a week you have to think about how you’re going to get the most out of every player. It’s going to be difficult because we are short in certain areas of the pitch and a little bit light so we might have to tinker with how we set up and play but we’re more than good enough to get the result.”
With two more matches away from home, the City boss was also keen to see the City supporters, once again, travel in strong numbers to the likes of Northampton and Macclesfield.
“It’s a slightly earlier kick-off so it doesn’t clash with the rugby traffic,” said Matt. “We then play Macclesfield on the Tuesday night. We’ve had brilliant support away from home and hopefully that can continue and hopefully we reward them with some points.”
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.