Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale is taking a sensible approach to run-in
Exeter City could hold a psychological advantage in the npower League Two promotion race in that manager Paul Tisdale has been in this position many times before.
A thumping 4-1 win over Bradford City last Saturday left the Grecians firmly entrenched in the play-off zone, but, rather than settle for what they have, it is an automatic promotion place that they really crave.
Tisdale was at the helm when Exeter reached the Conference play-off final in 2007, when they lost to Morecambe. Twelve months later, he oversaw the Grecians' return to the Football League by returning to Wembley and beating Cambridge United and, a year later, City went up again as runners-up in League Two.
This time around, Gillingham look odds-on for the League Two title. They are four points clear of second-placed Port Vale (67 points) and have a game in hand, which they play tonight at Rochdale.
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Burton Albion (66) are third, the last of the automatic promotion spots, Cheltenham Town (64) are fourth and Exeter fifth, on 63 points. City travel to seventh-placed Rotherham United (61) on Saturday with Tisdale looking for his side to put themselves into a strong position for the final games of the campaign.
"It's a cliche, but it is one game at a time," Tisdale said. "It's a cliche, but make sensible decisions, don't try and chase the games and win the games too early, but let the games come to you.
"There will be a team that wins five or six of their remaining games and there may be teams that lose five or six. We need to be in a position where we can put a run of wins together and that means being sensible.
"We have had real issues with the injuries and losing creative players in midfield like Matt Oakley, Alan Gow and Liam Sercombe has been a blow – and Tommy Doherty has been a loss to us as well.
"That is the issue we have at the moment, but every team will have them and it is how you deal with it."
The Grecians have been stretched at times and the recent losses of Oakley and Doherty led to Tisdale bringing in Lawson D'Ath on loan from Reading. He celebrated his debut in style by netting Exeter's second goal against the Bantams last Saturday, but, while he has been a welcome addition to the squad, the losses of Sercombe, Gow, Oakley and Doherty should not be under-estimated.
"Our challenge at the moment is dealing with that centre midfield injury crisis that we have got and we are dealing with it very well," Tisdale said.
"Every team at this stage of the season that is involved in the promotion push will have some sort of challenge, be it two or three suspensions at once, injuries in one position, a loss of confidence, or something. Our something at the moment is that injury challenge in midfield, but we are coping really well.
"We have changed our style a little bit and Scot Bennett and Mark Molesley played to their strengths superbly against Bradford."
However, while Exeter may be a little thin on the ground right now, they have allowed striker Tom Nichols rejoin Dorchester Town on a month's loan.
The 19-year-old has only featured three times for the Grecians this season and spent time at both Hereford United in Blue Square Bet Premier, and Bath City, in Blue Square Bet South.
Last season, Nichols enjoyed a successful spell with the Magpies and he will look to better that this time around and aid them in their push for the Blue Square Bet South play-offs.
Exeter supporters wanting a ticket for the Devon derby at Plymouth Argyle a week on Saturday are reminded that it is all-ticket for away fans, and they are on sale at the St James' Park ticket office.
Tickets will be sold on a strict two-per-person policy, and each buyer will only be able to make a single transaction (it will not be possible to buy two tickets on separate occasions).
Individuals or groups will be able to purchase for other eligible fans, provided they have full details – name, priority number and address/postcode or contact number – of each supporter. They are priced at £20 for adults, £15 for over-65s and students, £7 for under-18s.
City fan Neil Le Milliere is one of three supporters shortlisted for the npower Fan of the Year award at the 2013 Football League awards.
The shortlist is comprised one fan from each division, with the three fans in contention to receive the honour being Derby County supporter Nick Webster, Coventry City's Paty Raybould and Le Milliere.
Le Milliere is a co-opted member of the Exeter City Supporters' Trust, a member of Supporters Direct and founder of the London Exiles.
He researches the routes and accommodation for fans to get to Exeter's games, and also mans and runs a bottle bar at the ground with all the profits going back to the club.