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Tisdale knows importance of picking up points to maintain promotion push

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 23, 2013

Matt Oakley has a chance of returning to the Exeter City midfield against Burton Albion today  Gary Day/Pinnacle

Matt Oakley has a chance of returning to the Exeter City midfield against Burton Albion today Gary Day/Pinnacle

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Exeter City head to Burton Albion today for the first of nine games which could make or break their season.

Seven of those games are against teams involved in the npower League Two promotion picture, with the other two against teams fighting to avoid relegation from English football's fourth tier.

Only 14 games remain this campaign, so, by the end of March heading into April, we will have a pretty good idea of what is on offer for the Grecians going into the final five fixtures of the season.

"When you look at the next three or four weeks, most games are the cliched six-pointers," Tisdale said. "We will look at all these games very importantly as there is no gap in the fixture list that we are looking at with a cheery glint.

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"We are looking at them all pretty seriously and expecting tough games, and it will be a three or four-week period that will give a clue as to what our expectations should be come the end of April.

"As long as automatic promotion is there, we will go for it. But there are half a dozen plus other teams that have their eyes on the same thing."

Exeter are currently seventh in League Two and occupy the last of the four play-offs places. However, they are only three points behind Rotherham United in third – the last automatic promotion spot – ten behind leaders Gillingham and ten ahead of Wycombe in 14th. The season, it seems, is about to get very interesting.

"Spring is about to fall upon the Cat and Fiddle and we have memories of promotion years where we get to the last six weeks of the season, the sun shines and everyone is eager to get on the training ground," Tisdale said.

"You have that when you have something to play for, you are chasing promotion and everyone is upbeat and positive and enthusiastic.

"I really hope we get that again in the last six weeks of the season, but what will define that will be the next half a dozen games and whether we get through them with sufficient points to be involved in the promotion shake-up.

"I wouldn't say March is make or break. It's about accumulating enough points and, whether we get them in March or April doesn't really matter, but March is coming upon us very quickly.

"We have a lot of games coming and it will be hard to get through that with few points and still have ambitions of promotion."

Perhaps Tisdale's biggest challenge will be managing his squad over the next six weeks or so. He is already without Liam Sercombe and Alan Gow, both of whom are unlikely to play again this season, and Myles Anderson, but John O'Flynn and Matt Oakley are in with a shout of returning to action today.

"We have to be very careful with the players because we don't have too many senior first-team players," Tisdale said. "We have added the likes of Jimmy Keohane, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Jake Gosling and one or two others throughout the season, so the first team group is growing."

Today's clash pits arguably the section's two surprise packages together. Exeter were expected to finish no better than mid-table with the bookmakers back in July, while Burton were tipped by many to go down.

"They are certainly doing very well," Tisdale said. "I don't think you'd have too many people predict they would be in the top three or four in February, but they clearly deserve it because they have won the points to warrant that position."

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

Unavailable: Sercombe (ankle), Gow (ankle), Anderson (unknown).

Exeter City defenders Jake Wannell and Jordan Tillson have joined Evo-Stik League Southern Premier side Chippenham Town on one-month loans. They will both go into the Chippenham squad to face Bedworth United today.

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