Paul Tisdale gears up for Exeter City's 'toughest test'
Paul Tisdale believes his Exeter City players are in for their toughest test of the season tonight when npower League Two leaders Gillingham visit St James' Park.
Martin Allen's side extended their lead at the top to five points with a 2-1 win over Plymouth Argyle last Saturday, while second-placed Port Vale slipped to a 2-1 home defeat by Southend United.
Exeter, meanwhile, drew 0-0 at Fleetwood Town, another promotion-chasing team, which leaves the Grecians ten points adrift of the Gills ahead of tonight's encounter.
"It will be another tough game and whatever will be will be, but we will go out looking for the win again," Tisdale said.
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"They have the same away record as we have in terms of wins, so we know they have been used to winning as well.
"I have to say it will be our toughest home challenge of the season going by statistics," the City boss added.
Indeed, Gillingham and Exeter have both tasted success 11 times on the road this season, and only League One leaders Doncaster Rovers (12) have enjoyed more victories in English football's top four divisions.
Home form has been more of an issue for City, although, with two wins in their last two home encounters, against Accrington Stanley and Southend United, the Grecians will head into the game in confident mood.
Exeter's draw at the weekend saw them remain in the play-off places and gain ground on some of the teams in and around them. Tisdale believes that will be the case from between now and the end of the season as the promotion race really gathers pace.
"Every week you are going to get winners and losers," he said. "Port Vale lost on Saturday, and Rotherham and Cheltenham lost as well, but then you have winners like Southend, who are coming back into it, and Burton, who beat Cheltenham, and Gillingham.
"It is going to keep going. We just have to accept that we have to keep picking up points and win more than we lose. Then, regardless of others, I think we'll be OK."
Tonight's game will be Exeter's sixth in a fortnight, which has included long treks to Fleetwood, Port Vale and Burton Albion. City also travelled to Bristol Rovers during that time, so it will be a relief for Tisdale and his players to be back on home soil tonight.
"It is very taxing at the moment, but the nice thing is that we have two home games because we are getting weary with the travel," Tisdale said.
"There were a couple [of players] that were bandaged up and had ice packs after the game on Saturday, so we will have a look at who is fit and get ready to go again."