Exeter City manager Tisdale takes nothing from Grecians' last visit to Plainmoor
Exeter City's last visit to Torquay United is a game that supporters of both sets will remember with contrasting emotions.
It was on May 5, 2008, and Exeter made the short trip down the A380 for the second leg of a Blue Square Premier play-off semi-final trailing 2-1 after a tight first leg at St James' Park.
That was a game they had performed well in, but the Gulls prevailed when an error by Exeter goalkeeper Paul Jones allowed Chris Zebroski to charge down his kick and score the winning goal in the 90th minute.
However, just four days later, Exeter fans were celebrating last-minute drama.
After watching Kevin Hill put the Gulls 3-1 ahead on aggregate and with only 20 minutes remaining, there was an understandable party atmosphere inside Plainmoor as the home faithful began to think of a Wembley final.
The mocking of their rival fans had begun, but, inspired by the mesmeric Rob Edwards, City scored four goals – two of which came in the 90th minute – to claim an incredible 4-1 win on the day and triumph 5-3 on aggregate. It was a comeback on the grandest scale that lives long in the memory of Exeter supporters. For the "Yellow Army", it is something that hurt and still rankles.
Three and a half years later' Devon's current top two teams meet again. But, with so few players remaining from those epic clashes, City manager Paul Tisdale insists it counts for nothing.
"It was a long time ago," the City boss said. "Steve Tully is still in situ from our team since then. They [Torquay] have got one or two maybe, [Kevin] Nicholson and [Lee] Mansell, who played that day. It was a long time ago, but it was a terrific day for the club – one of the best I have had at Exeter, but it will count for nothing on Saturday."
City went on to beat Cambridge United in the Wembley final and win promotion back to the Football League. Torquay followed 12 months later, when they too beat Cambridge at Wembley, as the fortunes of both clubs changed for the better.
Today, City head to Plainmoor boasting the joint-best away record in npower League Two. It will be put to the test against a Torquay side who have an impressive home record of only one defeat on home soil so far this campaign. No League Two side have lost fewer times at home this term. "If you look at the statistics Torquay are very strong at home so of course it is going to be, on paper, a more difficult game," said Tisdale. "But we will approach the game as if we can win it.
"We have also got one of the best away records in the league. I make it a principle that we don't view away games differently to home games. We look at it as three points to gain, 90 minutes and 11 versus 11.
"On any given day, most teams can raise their game and have a terrific performance. You have to assume on any day you play a particular team, they may well do that."
Tisdale added: "I think any derby is going to be anxious for both teams and fully committed. You always hope to get a strong referee, like we had last Saturday [against Plymouth Argyle]. You hope the referee is strong and forthright."
A win for the Gulls would see them climb above Exeter, who currently occupy the last of the play-offs places. The final whistle will also mark the half-way stage of the season and give both teams a marker as to what is needed for the second half of the campaign.
"Once we get through it, we are halfway through and it gives us a chance to draw a line ahead of what is coming in the next part of the season," Tisdale said. "I'm confident that we can improve during the rest of the season. There is a long way to go yet, we are placed in a fair position, as are they, so it is all to play for."