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Games come thick and fast in run which may define season

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 08, 2012

Exeter City

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It seems an age since the Grecians were last in action. City's defeat in the FA Cup first round meant they were devoid of a fixture last weekend and the wait for one seems that much longer with what lies in wait during December.

After today's trip to Rochdale – which is always one of my favourite away days – it is the first Devon derby of the season as Plymouth Argyle visit St James'.

Exeter fans then have only seven days to wait before the second as the Grecians travel to Torquay United on December 22.

The games come thick and fast during December with City back at the Park on Boxing Day for the visit of Oxford United, and Barnet make the trip to the Westcountry three days later. A hectic festive period is brought to a close in early January as Exeter travel to Wycombe Wanderers on New Year's Day and then York City on January 5.

It is certainly a run of games to look forward to and after some gruelling treks already this season, Paul Tisdale and his players will certainly welcome playing so many games in Devon this month, certainly over the Christmas period. It is also a time where some serious ground can be made or lost in terms of this season's promotion race.

Exeter, Rochdale, Torquay and even Oxford and York still have hopes of being there or thereabouts come May, while the clash with Plymouth is by no means going to be easy. What derby game ever is?

However, Exeter go into the month as fresh as they possibly can be after this two-week break. It has given players an opportunity to overcome knocks and niggles and be in as good a physical shape as possible for what is going to be a challenging set of fixtures. Of course, everyone will be desperate for a win next week, but at the forefront of Tisdale's mind is today's trip to Rochdale where City have fared well in recent years.

When Exeter won promotion in 2009, they played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Spotland in a game which, to use a cliche, was a terrific advert for League Two football.

Two years later, Exeter won 1-0 at Spotland courtesy of a Jamie Cureton goal, while last season, they gave one of their best performances of the campaign, even if it ended in a 3-2 defeat.

The Grecians were cruising and leading 2-0 with ten minutes to go, but poor defending and bad goalkeeping conspired to see them lose 3-2 and had the natives questioning in disbelief how their team had won the game.

Spotland's a good old ground though. The people are friendly, and accommodating and, being a fan of the Manchester music scene, I always find myself tapping my toes as the likes of the Stone Roses, Charlatans and James get played over the public address system pre- and post-match.

A win today would certainly be a great way to gear up for the next few weeks. Then, the action really begins.

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