Exeter have incentive of historic feat as they welcome old rivals
It was with an element of surprise that, at Thursday’s press call, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale reacted to a statistic put to him by one of the journalists.
Not since 1999 have the Grecians started a home campaign with four straight victories. Back then, Hull City – where are they now? – Rotherham United, York City and Mansfield Town succumbed to Peter Fox’s Grecians, who, up until Christmas, looked an outside bet to launch a promotion challenge that season.
It all went spectacularly wrong, though, as Fox’s side won only six more games that campaign to ultimately finish in 21st place, amassing only 44 points from their 46 League matches.
It seems unlikely that history will repeat itself – at least, City fans will very much hope it does not – as these Grecians are a far better proposition to the team seen back then.
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However, asked if matching those four wins puts any pressure on City for Saturday’s League Two clash at home to Newport County, a startled Tisdale jokingly replied: “It hadn’t, but it does now! Thank you very much!
“We would like to make it four, so if you think we will take that and be very grateful for it, and draw any complacency from the team, then it is my job and the players’ job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“You can never guarantee that you are going to win, but you can make every effort to give yourself the best chance of doing so. Every game should be approached as though it is the most important game there is – because it is the next game. There is no knowledge on my part of that fact, but there is now.”
Another statistic is that the Grecians have never played Newport in their current guise, other than in a pre-season friendly back in 2008 when a City side made up of youngsters, reserves and the odd trialist lost 2-1 in south Wales.
However, combat against the Welsh side before their demise in the late 1980s was far more regular. In fact, the two clubs have clashed no fewer than 107 times over the years and can claim 39 victories apiece.
“We know most of the players individually, having come across them, and we know Billy Jones and Lenny Pidgeley very well, of course,” Tisdale said. “We know [manager] Justin [Edinburgh] and [assistant] Jimmy Dack from their previous clubs, so I think we have a feel for their team.
“We haven’t played them for a long time and there is no recent history with them, but I think we have enough knowledge from the first seven games to know what we are expecting.
“They have come a long way in a short space of time as a club, and congratulations to them for gaining promotion back into the Football League. It is not easy, we know that, and they have found their feet very quickly. They have some good players and an experienced football man in Justin Edinburgh.
“I think they have done extremely well and it shows what can happen in four or five years when you have continuity within your staff. They have achieved something that has eluded many teams, which is promotion into the Football League.”
Newport will have a strong travelling contingent cheering them from the St James’ Road end, with around 800 tickets sold before this week’s sale deadline. It is an all-ticket match for away fans, which should add a little spice to the day’s proceedings. “I am hoping we get a really good crowd,” Tisdale said.
“The opening-day crowd against Bristol Rovers was a very good crowd and hopefully we can get somewhere near that.
“We are coming out of the summer weather now and it’s into the autumn football weather; we have had a good start to the season, they have are doing particularly well. I am hoping it will be a really enjoyable afternoon.”
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Pym; Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Davies, Doherty, Moore-Taylor, Dawson, O’Flynn, Reid, Nichols, Gosling, Keohane, Wannell, Jagger-Cane, Parkin, Tillson, Grimes, Jay, Chamberlain, Wheeler.