City must live up to their own hype
There have been more than a few members of the Exeter City squad happy to proclaim that they are part of a good team.
A look through the list of players would suggest that – on paper at least – those claims are valid, but as manager Paul Tisdale says, the only way to distinguish a good team from a bad one is by the results they achieve.
So far this season, City have had some good moments, such as the 3-0 win at Accrington, the 4-2 success at Oxford and they way they came back to draw with Fleetwood at St James' Park last weekend.
At the time they played them, all of those opponents were in the top half of the table. On the eve of today's trip to fourth-placed Bradford City, Tisdale has called on his players to continue their recent good run and go on to prove that they are indeed a decent side.
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"The players know they are part of potentially a very good team, but until you win games and start to get results, you can't claim to be a good team," he said. "We need to win some games and then we can start hoping that we have a chance of doing something.
"It always helps in training when you have won a game or two because the players can relax a little bit more and it takes the stress out of the week. The players are more relaxed after the two games last week and enjoyed their week a little better."
Exeter go into today's game having ended a wretched run of results, where they picked up only four points from eight matches. A win against Wimbledon was followed by the draw with Fleetwood, where the Grecians did enough to have earned all three points.
Luck was certainly against them last weekend, but it was pleasing to see a far more confident performance after so many disappointing ones on home soil previously this campaign.
"We are buoyed by the two home games last week. It sort if gets us back onto a confident footing at home," Tisdale said.
"There are a lot of differences between playing at home and playing away and we haven't been good enough at home. We haven't had the results at home that we had hoped for and we had to make an improvement and we did over those two games.
"I really liked the way we played and it was the type of team that I want to see on the pitch representing Exeter City. The next two games are completely different. We can't play the same way and we can't necessarily do the same things.
"It will be a long four or five days for us going to Bradford and then Gillingham, but four points from our last two home games is satisfactory and it takes us into these away games in confidence. I guess the wheels have started turning again after a very sticky month and we are hoping we can get a similar return from these next two games."
The Grecians' Achilles heel in recent weeks has been their defending from set-pieces. Fleetwood were the latest beneficiaries with their opening goal last weekend, but Tisdale is confident things will soon change.
"We have been working on it for the last three or four weeks. Perhaps we haven't seen the dividends of it yet," he said.
"I think we always need reminding that set pieces can play such a pivotal part in any game. You can be playing well and lose a goal off the back of something so soft and out of the blue is a standard set play.
"We always have to be focused on those things whether we are winning or losing games. We are fully aware that it is part of our game that needs to be worked on."
Exeter can expect to travel in excess of 1,000 miles for the next two games, but despite the tiring nature of journeys to west Yorkshire and then Kent, Tisdale will not use it as an excuse for poor performances.
"We are used to it," he said. "We have a good coach company in Redwoods, who look after us very well, and we have a standard routine with hotels that we stay at.
"It is very familiar for the players. We will train at Lilleshall on the way up and stay at the same hotel in Knutsford that we always use and I think that continuity will be vital for players not being out of their comfort zone.
"It is a tough part of the job. The travel and being away from home isn't much fun, but they are used to it and it counts as no excuse in my book."
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Evans; Tully, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Davies, Cureton, Doherty, Amankwaah, O'Flynn, Nichols, Bauza, Keohane, Chamberlain, Dawson, Moore-Taylor, Jagger-Cane, Micklewright, Roper, Wannell.
Unavailable: Gosling, Frear, Knowles (out on loan), Davies (injured).