In the immediate aftermath of his side’s 2-2 draw with Bury, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale admitted he was almost relishing the chance to get down to some hard graft with his players on the training ground.
He had just seen his team go an eighth game without a win and continue a slide down the League Two table which has at the very least dented the Grecians’ promotion aspirations, but the City boss could see certain aspects of his team’s play that did not displease him.
With a window of good weather, which has allowed him time to work with his squad, City get back to it on Saturday afternoon with a challenging trip to a rapidly improving Accrington Stanley side who have won five of their last eight matches.
“We will find out on Saturday if it has helped,” Tisdale said of the Grecians’ extended break. “We have been able to prepare differently and over a longer period of time; we have done more training that we would not have ordinarily have done had we had a couple of games, so there has been a clear difference to our preparation.
“We have had the odd occasion where we have played against a team coming into form, but, in a league programme, we will play teams in form, out of form and we will beat teams in form and out of form.
“It is a very evenly matched league and everyone playing and coaching are professional people trying their best and we assume that every team will be at their best against us, that’s how we approach any game. Accrington have had some good results, but that doesn’t mean we can’t beat them and it doesn’t mean that we will beat them. It will be a game where we have to earn our points.”
Since City last took to the field, their reserve side have continued to impress with notable wins against a strong Plymouth Argyle side in the semi-finals of the Devon St Luke’s Challenge Cup (on penalties following a 1-1 draw) and on Tuesday in a behind-closed-doors friendly against a strong Yeovil Town side, where Jimmy Keohane scored the only goal of the game.
Several members of that team are continuing to catch the eye, but Tisdale insists he will only play them when the time is right, despite witnessing one or two more senior players struggling for form.
“We put a lot of time, credence, effort and energy into our young players and development players and I think the line between our first team and second string isn’t always so clear,” Tisdale said.
“The results of late really do show that the group of players are improving quickly and there is more than one or two challenging for a place. My job is to make sure we give them an opportunity to go in, they go in with support and at the right time and not all at the same time. It has to happen organically and there may be one or two that will break through soon.”
The pleasing thing for Exeter is that Tisdale will be the man to oversee that transition. Last week, he was interviewed for the managerial vacancy at Portsmouth, but was overlooked in favour of former Crawley Town manager Richie Barker.
“I don’t think there is any harm in speaking to someone, I have done it before, I have often said no and this was them approaching Exeter about speaking to me and I did,” he said.
“Portsmouth are a very good club and I spoke to them, but it’s not a clean situation there. It has certainly been muddled by their financial situation and they are recovering from all sorts of problems. But I think it needs to be said that I was approached rather than me apply for the job.”
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Pym; Butterfield, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Sercombe, Oakley, Gow, Davies, Parkin, Doherty, Moore-Taylor, Dawson, Gill, O’Flynn, Reid, Nichols, Gosling, Keohane, Wannell, Jagger-Cane, Parkin, Tillson, Chamberlain, Grimes, Jay, Wheeler.
Unavailable: Oakley, Coles (injured), Bergqvist (on loan to Welling United).