Danny Coles has called on his Exeter City team-mates to build on their terrific win at Bradford City when they travel to runaway npower League Two leaders Gillingham tonight.
The Grecians stretched their unbeaten run to three matches with a fine 1-0 win in West Yorkshire last Saturday, a result that was achieved off the back of a brilliant defensive performance.
That back line is almost certain to come under even more pressure at Priestfield tonight, when they will come up against a side seven points clear at the top of the table.
“We have to make sure it is not just a one-off,” the Exeter captain said. “We have a tough game at Gillingham, they are flying at the minute and won again at the weekend, so it will be a big game for us. But if we put a defensive performance in like we did on Saturday, then I can’t see why we won’t come away with a victory again.
“We just want to take each game as it comes. I know it’s a cliche, but we have to find the consistency that we had earlier in the season when we were winning games.
“We haven’t lost for three games now, so we have a little run going now and hopefully we can carry that on.”
It was easy to understand Coles’ delight with Saturday’s win, with the clean-sheet only Exeter’s third of the campaign so far. The former Bristol City, Hull City and Bristol Rovers man is his own worst critic and, on an afternoon where the whole team defended superbly from the front, the skipper led by example.
“A lot of people have questioned our defensive frailties over the season and rightly so,” Coles said. “We have leaked some soft goals, but, like I have said previously in a lot of interviews, we work hard on the training ground week in, week out, and we knew it would take time.
“It was the sort of defensive performance we know we are capable of and we will continue to keep working hard and hopefully we will get plenty more of them.
“It was outstanding and we know we have it in us to do that. We proved it at Bradford, who are a team that will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season, but we defended well as a team and snuffed out everything.”
Coles added: “We are our own biggest critics. We know that we haven’t been good enough from set-pieces and stuff like that throughout the season, but we want to concentrate on the positives and we were outstanding from start to finish at Bradford. We are buzzing.
“You know you are going to concede a lot of possession at a place like Bradford and they would pump a lot of balls into the box, so we knew we had to stand up and be counted. To come away with a 1-0 victory is something we can take a lot of confidence from.”
The one downside to the win was a number of knocks picked up by the Exeter players. Scot Bennett and Pat Baldwin are two who are struggling ahead of tonight’s clash and there are a number of other niggles in the squad.
“We have prepared properly and we will look forward to a long journey up to Gillingham on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to it,” Coles said.
“There are a few tired bodies in the camp, but we had Sunday off and we will go again on Monday looking to fire on all cylinders on Tuesday.
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.
Doubtful: Bennett, Baldwin.
Unavailable: Gosling, Frear, Knowles (out on loan), Davies (injured).