Tisdale seeks repeat performance but a different result at Spotland
For those who travelled to Rochdale in April, as the last rites were being read on Exeter City's status as a League One club, they can perhaps understand where manager Paul Tisdale is coming from when he says he hopes for a similar performance when City return to Spotland today.
It was one of the more bizarre games of the campaign and in many ways, one of the best performances as well. For 80 minutes, Exeter belied their lowly status and played some fine football and led 2-0 with goals from Daniel Nardiello and Liam Sercombe. They were in complete control.
With three games of the season remaining, it raised hope that the Grecians might just pull off a miracle escape from relegation. But a capitulation on the grandest scale saw them crash to an alarming 3-2 defeat and effectively kill those hopes in an instant.
It was the game that ended any hope of salvation. Yet strangely, there was much to be encouraged about on the journey back from Spotland, such as the performance of Alan Gow. It led to many thinking that Exeter might just be OK in League Two if they could keep hold of Gow and others who played on that day.
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Since then, Gow has indeed committed to the club and while others may have left, Exeter go into the game in arguably a far stronger state than they were just eight months ago. Confidence is certainly higher, there is plenty to be optimistic about and much to look forward to. So it is understandable that Tisdale wants a similar performance to the one that day.
"We were excellent for 80 minutes and then it all went wrong for us. It was just one of those strange games that you get now and then, but if we can get anywhere near that level of performance on Saturday, then I will be very happy," said Tisdale, who has a record of having won one, drawn one and lost one at Spotland.
"It is a ground where we tend to put in a decent performance. I remember the 2-2 draw we had there a few years ago, which was a fantastic game of football. Then we won with a Jamie Cureton goal two or three years ago, so we do tend to play well whenever we go to Rochdale. We hope that will continue this weekend, but it won't be easy.
"They have a similar record to us and obviously, they came down with us last season. I expect they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season, so it will be a tough game for us."
City will be without Scot Bennett for today's clash as he serves a one-match suspension. Tommy Doherty will travel with the side, but he remains a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury last time out against Rotherham.
"We also have Arron Davies back, Jimmy Keohane is getting better and better and Aaron Dawson is improving all the time as well, so we do have plenty of options," Tisdale said.
Craig Woodman is available after serving a one-match ban and Tisdale has praised the Devon-born defender for the way he has bounced back after an inauspicious start to his Grecians career.
"Craig has benefited from a run on the team, as many players have, and has been performing very well over the past five weeks or so," Tisdale said. "I think it has helped with him moving his family down here because he is settled and with that settled base comes a more consistent performance.
"Like many of our players who were not playing regularly, like Matt Oakley, like Jamie Cureton and like Kevin Amankwaah, he was in and out of the team [at Brentford] and I think we are seeing them really in their groove now."
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Evans; Tully, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Davies, Cureton, Doherty, Amankwaah, O'Flynn, Bauza, Keohane, Chamberlain, Dawson, Moore-Taylor, Jagger-Cane, Micklewright, Roper, Wannell.
Unavailable: Gosling, Frear, Knowles Nichols (out on loan), Bennett (suspended).