Exeter City will be approaching their game with Stevenage on Saturday on the front foot and with a positive mindset.
The Grecians have suffered back-to-back away defeats going into the fixture, but on the back of a few players returning from injury and a home record that has seen them lose just once at St James Park all season, they have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
“We can delve deeply into the results last week and the fact that we didn’t pick up enough points, but our performances haven’t been too far away,” said manager Matt Taylor. “It is up to myself and this group of players to approach Saturday’s game in the right mindset, a positive mindset, because we are still in a fantastic position and people can’t forget that too quickly and we have to enjoy and pressures that come off the back of that.”
City do sit in a fantastic position in the table, sitting outside the automatic promotion places on goal difference, and with Lee Holmes, Brennan Dickenson and Alex Fisher all getting minutes in a under-23s fixture against Portsmouth on Tuesday night, competition for places is increasing in the match-day squad.
“It was important to get more minutes into Brennan (Dickenson),” said Matt. “It is more minutes in a position that we see him playing in the next few weeks and I thought Fish (Ales Fisher) and Lee Holmes were outstanding in terms of their attitude towards the game.
“It is always difficult as a senior figure to play in a younger players’ fixture but the way they approached it was spot on and that is what you expect from good professionals.
“They got their rewards in terms of their performance and then they are going into the picture in terms of the weekend. Holmsey (Lee Holmes) has been out for a long period of time so we have got to keep on building him, but the 60 or so minutes he got on Tuesday night is so, so important and the fact that he has got through that, with his body feeling the way it is, is a real bonus.”
City were dealt a couple of injury blows last Saturday though when goalkeeper Jonny Maxted pulled out of the starting XI in the warm up with a strain and then captain Jake Taylor limped off in the first half following a hefty challenge on his ankle.
“Jonny has had a scan on his side/stomach injury,” said Matt. “We think there is a muscle strain or tear of some sort, we have got to wait and see the scan results, but we will have to wait and see how serious that is.
“When we get those results, we will have to assess the situation because we can’t survive on just one fit senior goalkeeper.
“Jake (Taylor) took a hefty blow to his ankle. The swelling has gone down, but the bruising has come out. He did a little bit of jogging outside today. However, it is a race against time for Jakey (Jake Taylor) this weekend and it is with the nature of the initial blow it is whether or not we risk him this weekend. We will assess it in the next couple of days.”
Stevenage come to SJP bottom of the table, but Matt added that they have strengthened by signing some players on transfer deadline day and he thinks the team will have a different dynamic to from the one City beat in the Leasing.com Trophy on January 21.
“It was interesting because we played them three or four weeks ago in the Leasing.com Trophy, but I think the team will have a different dynamic about it to the team we faced on that evening,” he said.
“They will be motivated, they will be hungry, they will be tough, they will be physical and they will be a real handful for us to deal with, but our form at the Park has generally been very good this season. Hopefully, we can reproduce that form, put in a performance and win the game.”