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Derby 'only a game', insists Edwards

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 22, 2012

Rob Edwards celebrates his winning goal for Exeter City in the Blue Square Premier play-off final in May 2008 PICTURE: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

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If the talk emanating from the Torquay United camp is of revenge in today's Devon derby at Plainmoor, then there is a very different message coming from the Grecians.

Seven days after a scrappy and uninspiring 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle, in which the Grecians were well off the pace, Exeter face Devon's other representatives in League Two today, treating the game like any other.

Torquay want revenge for a 4-1 defeat in the Blue Square Premier play-off semi-final in May 2008, which saw the Grecians rather than the Gulls go on to the Wembley final. But while that message of revenge has been acknowledged up the A380, City assistant manager Rob Edwards is preparing for today's game just like any other.

"The lads want to win every game and they try and win every game," Edwards said. "I think there's an importance that you relax and try and play your football in the game and Paul [Tisdale] is constantly reminding them that it is only a game and it is three points we are playing for, even though he expects the players to try and win every game. I don't think it changes, if I am honest."

Try saying that to the Exeter fans, though, who will be wanting a much-improved performance from the one against the Pilgrims. Just another game? What about local pride and bragging rights? Surely that alone makes it more than just another game?

"You understand that as a player and you are very aware of that. But when I say it's the same, I am talking about how you approach the game," Edwards explained.

"When you are actually playing, you are very aware that it is different because the atmosphere is more intense and it is fantastic to play in. When you are involved, you desperately want to win it, I'm just talking about how you prepare and how you play your football. It is just another game.

"If you are a professional, that is the case, but you don't want to get sucked into the hype of it all. I have been sent off in a local derby before for Bristol City against Bristol Rovers and you can easily go too far in terms of the emotion, so we are aware of it and we don't want that to happen to our players. But we do want them to play their football."

Edwards played a starring role in Exeter's stunning comeback back in May 2008. With City 3-1 down on aggregate, he set up the first goal for Ryan Harley after an astonishing run from the edge of his own penalty box, and supplied the pass for the breakaway fourth, scored by Wayne Carlisle. Ben Watson and Richard Logan scored in between.

Edwards went on to score the only goal in that Wembley final against Cambridge City, thus etching his name into Exeter City folklore, but, with only Steve Tully remaining from the side that played that day, little will be mentioned in the build-up to today's encounter.

"I have good memories of Torquay, that's for sure. It was a day where we believed it was going to happen for us and at one stage, it looked as though it wouldn't happen, but it came good for us," he said.

"There was a lot of belief in the team then that it was going to be our year and I'm seeing similar signs of belief this year. We all believe that, even if it doesn't always go right for us on a Saturday afternoon during a game.

"If you believe in where you are going to end up at the end of the season and you are good enough, you give yourself a chance and it happened for us that day. Hopefully it will happen again for us this year.

"But that game is gone now, that was one moment. It is always about the next game and if we do mention that game, then it will probably be that you don't always have to score the first goal to win a game of football and you are always in the game.

"The important thing is to stay in the game and they are messages that Paul, myself and all of the staff try and give the players. It only takes a second to score a goal and you can come back, even from two goals down."

Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Evans; Tully, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Cureton, Doherty, Amankwaah, O'Flynn, Bauza, Keohane, Chamberlain, Dawson, Moore-Taylor, Jagger-Cane, Micklewright, Roper, Wannell.

Unavailable: Gosling, Frear, Knowles, Nichols (out on loan), Davies (injured).

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