Looking ahead to Saturday's match at Exeter City, we spoke to Grecians reporter Daniel Clark who covers the Club for Devon Online...
- How would you sum up Exeter’s season so far?
"It has been generally very positive, although the last few weeks have been a bit difficult. After a summer where nine players left and only three came in, a heavy emphasis on youth was relied on by Matt Taylor and by and large they have stepped up to the plate.
"Despite the recent struggles, City are still top goal scorers in the league and have played some of the most free flowing and entertaining football that I can remember from the club, which makes the league position even more frustrating as it feels like they should be higher in the table than they are, particularly as there isn’t an outstanding team (that I’ve seen yet) in the division."
"But despite the goals, too many chances have gone begging in games and defensively far too many very soft and avoidable goals have been conceded, which has frustrated Taylor as much as the fans, but given the budgetary constraints and the smaller and younger squad, and the entertaining football, it has been a reasonably positive season so far.
"The games in hand mean that City are in a slightly false position – they would be in the play-offs if the dreaded PPG was used – and that’s got to be the target."
"The one real disappointment has to be the exit from the cups with the performance against Northampton in the EFL Trophy short of the standards with sloppy errors throwing the game away, with the FA Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday was the limpest performance of the season."
- The teams last win was mid-December – is there anything tangible that you can put this down to?
"Partly down to the stop-start nature of the fixtures, with so many being called off that City haven’t been able to get into any sort of rhythm. And partly down to a few of the attacking talent who had been playing so well just dropping off the boil at the same time.
"Joel Randall having had a brilliant start to what has been his breakthrough season has just looked a bit tired lately and hasn’t been so effective, while Matt Jay hasn’t managed to get into games in the same way he didn’t earlier in the campaign, and the half-chances that were going in have started to go wide.
"The injury to Randell Williams has also been a blow – although that was January – as while he wasn’t having his best season, defenders were scared of what he can do and often doubled up on him, leaving more space for the likes of Jay and Randall to exploit, but without him, there isn’t a like-for-like replacement.
"The results on their own aren’t that terrible – the Harrogate loss (and draw) were both games City probably should have won, draws with Forest Green and Bolton (both of which City shaded on points) are results you’d probably take."
- As ever, the Grecians have been strong at home – is the teams away form what needs addressing in-order to maintain another push for promotion?
"What’s costing City away from home is the number of draws they’ve had. One defeat in ten sounds good, but they’ve drawn seven of those games, and definitely need to start converting some of them into wins.
"The home form started well but ironically since the brief return of crowds fell away a bit and the three losses this season in the League (plus two in the cups) compare to just the one loss in the whole of last season at home.
"Could do with recapturing the invincibility that they had at home in previous seasons, and the stopping of conceding poor goals is the start of that."
- Who has been the teams star player so far?
"There’s a lot of talk around Joel Randall and had you asked this a month ago, he’d be the answer, but the winger hasn’t scored since November and his form has dipped recently, although it’s his first season in the team so perhaps not expected.
"But Matt Jay has stepped up and produced the consistent performances and goalscoring return that his early promise suggested he had, and has already gone past his tally for last season, and is keeping Nicky Law, who is arguably City’s best player, out of the side with his performances. Jay often pops up with goals when they are needed, is always buzzing around the opposition, and links the play between the midfield and Ryan Bowman upfront together."
- Finally, what’s your score prediction?
"Have to go for a City win – going for 2-1 as think they will have enough to get back to winning ways but haven’t been solid enough for 90 minutes in recent games to make me confident they’ll keep back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since January 2020."