Exeter City manager Matt Taylor says he’s looking for his players to maintain the right mentality as they prepare to take on Grimsby Town at St James Park on Saturday in Sky Bet League Two.
The Grecians go into the match top of the table and could make it a club record of 14 consecutive league matches unbeaten if they avoid defeat on Saturday, but the City manager wants his side to continue their hard work and the form that has served them well so far this season.
On his side and the threat that Grimsby will pose, the City manager said: “We took one point off them last season and it was a frustrating match at home, and it was a similar scenario up there. They’re a well organised and well drilled team playing a really good style of football.
“I’ve been impressed with the way they play. It will be a tough test; they’ve got good players and the manager has recruited well. We have an idea of what we’ll be up against, obviously they had the game against Chelsea, but we can’t take too much out of it because we’re a different opposition to Chelsea, but we’ve studied them as best we possibly can.
“We’ve got to reiterate to our players that it’s about our own performance, the opposition do play a part in that, but we’ve got to have the right mentality and we feel we’ve had that in recent times and we’re looking forward to being back at the Park and putting on a performance.”
On the chance to beat the record, the City manager says, though it would be an achievement, the side will have their full attention on overcoming Grimsby.
He explained: “It’s a hell of a record to equal it, to go 13 games is impressive, so to get the 14th game would be a big achievement, but all our focus is on is picking up points on Saturday. It won’t be easy, we have an idea of what we’re up against but that will be a notch ticked off if the players do achieve that, and it’s not just this group of players, there was three games at the back end of last season. It’s an added pressure, but one we’ve got to look forward to, and that’s testament to the boys because they’ve put themselves in that position.”
The Grecians come into the match having had the benefit of a full week’s preparation, whereas Grimsby had to contend with their third round Carabao Cup clash with Premier League side Chelsea on Wednesday evening.
Matt says the players have put in some good work over the course of the week and they will be ready for the challenge that Town will pose.
“The work you do on the training pitch is always important, but we’ve done that all season in fairness, even when we’ve had three games in a week, we’ve tried to get the boys out there as much as possible and get the right processes and principles into them and we feel we’ve done that this week,” explained Matt. “They’ll do a light session tomorrow as they always do on a Friday. We’re looking forward to being back at the Park, obviously it was a difficult trip to Newport last weekend, but we should be in a good position this weekend.”
It looks like the Grecians will still be missing a few players that have been side-lined through injury in recent weeks as Lee Holmes, Nicky Ajose, Gary Warren continue their recovery. Matt also revealed that Nigel Atangana is fully fit and available for selection
He said: “No more so than those who are still out injured, but they’re another week on and another week closer. They’re a week stronger in terms of their rehab and their reintroduction back into the group. Nigel is available but it would be wrong for me to put him straight in, though he could be on the bench. There is the under-23s match next week which will be really valuable in terms of game time for certain personnel, but the rest of the group are fine."
The Grecians come into the match following three wins and two draws at St James Park so far in the league this season, and though pleased to be picking up points the City boss felt that they could have picked up more in recent weeks.
He said: “We’re slightly disappointed that we didn’t take all three points against Leyton Orient, I was disappointed with the goals conceded and we had enough possession to win the game, but we were behind for a long period, so it was good to get something out of it. You always want your home form to be strong, but it’s got to be backed up by your away form as well, it’s a complete package. We feel we’ve got the balance right at the moment and only time will tell in terms of our home and away form, but you have certainly got to look forward to playing games at home. We want to entertain the supporters; we want to give them the energy they need and likewise they can pass on the energy to us.”
News also came out of the club earlier in the week that youngsters Jack Sparkes and Ben Seymour had agreed contract extensions, and having impressed so far this campaign, Matt is pleased to have secured the youngsters.
He continued: “It’s a real plus for the club, it really is. Jack Sparkes is playing week in week out and playing really well. Ben Seymour is showing that he’s a first team player this season. They’re the next two off the conveyor belt, the next two who are wearing the first team jersey to inspire the next group who they will share a changing room with, in terms of the under-23s.
“They’re getting their opportunity, Jack’s still only 18 and Ben has just turned 20 so the future is bright for those two, it’s a reward for the work they’ve done but also a little livener in terms of the work they’ve got to do in the future. Ben had an incredible experience playing against Port Vale but he was up against two very physical centre halves and now he knows what it takes to play League Two football and also to be successful at this level so he’s got to keep working on his game and physicality, the same goes for Jack, and all the academy players.
“We’ve got to keep them honest and grounded, they’re good lads and have been around this club long enough now to know how we work and the ethos of the club. They will stay grounded; the staff and the other players will make sure of that. They should be as excited about their futures as we are.”
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