Grecians boss Matt Taylor has says last week’s performance at Salford has given City the perfect building blocks to open their Sky Bet League Two home campaign with a victory.
Port Vale, who are tipped to do well this season, are City’s first league opponents at SJP in exactly 200 days and Taylor is expecting a tough test.
“They finished last season very strongly and they seem to have started this season in pretty good form as well so it’s a very good team coming to the Park this weekend,” he said.
“Both teams showed last week that they want to compete at the right end of the table. I was really pleased with our performance last week and hopefully that’s a platform to get our first win of the season.”
It was the 29th September 2019 the last time City lost a home league match and Taylor hopes that his side can keep up their impressive record on home turf against a side who are unbeaten in nine league matches. He also stressed the importance of adapting to the new normal of behind closed doors matches.
“The home form for a number of seasons, even before I was manager, has been strong and we want to continue that and we want to win our home games.
“It’s a shame because the atmosphere at the Park for a long time has been fantastic and I know the players really enjoy playing there, so we are certainly going to miss the fans.
“It’s going to be about how we adapt to our new environment and we’ve already had a bit of experience with the Forest Green and Colchester games. It is going to be week in week out without fans though, but hopefully that will change in the near future.”
On the injury front things are looking promising for City, with Tuesday night’s 1-1 friendly draw at Weymouth allowing valuable minutes to those players pushing for starts this season. Nicky Law was amongst those who were given vital playing time.
“I was really pleased with how the group came through that 90 minutes. The likes of Law, Pierce Sweeney and Tom Parkes all got valuable minutes and Ben Seymour was given only his second outing of pre-season – he’s got to make up for lost time.
“They’ve all become more selectable this weekend but I also have to be more respectful to the team that played against Salford.”
One player who is yet to feature in the league is winger Randell Williams. A hot topic amongst the Grecians faithful over the last week has been the ongoing rumours regarding his future, and the boss was keen to update supporters on the latest.
“He didn’t feature at Salford because we’d accepted a fee and given him permission to speak to a club,” Taylor said.
“He has turned that opportunity down so he is still our player and he has been back with us in training and is available for this weekend. It will be difficult to start him given he missed training, the travelling he has done, and where he is at mentally but it is great to have him back and available.”