Paul Tisdale looking for perfect start for Exeter City in December
EXETER City manager Paul Tisdale has urged his players to get their busy month of December football off to the perfect start when they face Rochdale away on Saturday.
Tisdale is keen to see his side hit the ground running in Greater Manchester as they bid to cement their position in the play-offs by the turn of the year. City currently sit a point outside the top seven, but they know a win on Saturday will see them leap into the play-off places.
Tisdale says that is a 'nice little extra motivation' for his players but adds that he is just keen for them to continue their good form.
"We want to try and go into the festive period on the up," said Tisdale. "I like the fact that we have got a big two or three weeks over Christmas and New Year. We have a couple of derbies and it is going to be very exciting for everybody.
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"What is imperative is that we maintain our momentum. We obviously lost against Rotherham, but we had some form going into that (match) and this period and I would like to think that we can get a victory, or at least get a result at Rochdale. We will go there in a confident mood."
Tisdale's teams are well-known for getting stronger during the second half of the season, so with City reaching 23 out of 46 games away at Torquay United on December 22, the Grecians boss says it would be good to be in the play-off places by then.
"It would be a nice starting point and I would like to be there of course," said Tisdale. "We know that it is a very tight league. Anything down towards mid-table and you are a win or a loss away from moving in and out of the play-off positions.
"After we have played Torquay, we are more or less at the halfway point. I would settle for a play-off position at that point, knowing that we have got 23 games to improve our form."
Exeter City will be without three players for the match at Spotland, with Spanish striker Giullem Bauza and midfielder Tommy Doherty both ruled out through injury. Scot Bennett is also suspended having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at home to Rotherham last time out.
However, Arron Davies does return from injury to take a place in the squad and Tisdale says this is a good bonus.
"It is a massive boost for us to have Arron back into the team," said Tisdale. "It is much needed, I hasten to add, as we do need consistency in our side and in our midfield as we do have a couple of players missing there."
Rochdale go into Saturday's game slightly off form. City had a break from playing action last weekend, while the Dale lost at home to York City.
It was their third defeat from four, but Tisdale says it doesn't mean that they will be in for an easy game.
"I see Rochdale as a competitor for the top promotion and play-off places," he said.
"So it is a game against someone who I think we are in a bracket with in terms of potential for promotion so we need to attack the game.
"Rochdale lost on Saturday, but I don't for one minute expect them to be anything other than a very tough opponent.
"Having lost last week they will be looking to get a win themselves.
"It isn't an advantage (having not played last weekend) either. We will both be motivated and we will both be sufficiently prepared."
Exeter City have a good record against Rochdale in recent seasons.
They lost at Spotland last April, but have won four out of the last six against the Greater Manchester side.
Predicted City line-up: Krysiak, Tully, Coles, Baldwin, Woodman, Davies, Sercombe, Oakley, O'Flynn, Gow, Cureton