Graham Alexander says his side have been working on small improvements that proved to be the margin between taking points or not at Colchester United on Saturday.
The Ammies return to The Peninsula Stadium on Saturday to host second-placed Exeter City, the first of three games against teams in the top seven.
November was a month interrupted by cup fixtures and defeat in Essex wasn’t the ideal comeback, however there were positives to take from the game.
On Saturday, The Gaffer wants to see those acted upon and believes that the squad has the capability to compete with the top sides.
“We’ve just focused on the improvement we had to make, I thought our general play was really good last week, certainly in the second half, but we didn’t take advantage of the areas we had good possession in and we didn’t test the goalkeeper enough so we’ve looked at that, we’ve shown the players where we can improve on that, we’ve taken the work onto the training pitch but come Saturday it’s got to bear fruition out there.
“The players, we know where we are, we know what we’re capable of, it’s about having that improvement as quickly as possible really.
“The players are desperate to show they can make those improvements and Saturday’s the next opportunity to do that.
“It’s another tough game, as they all are, but you know it’s another opportunity for us to go and show that we can win games at this level and win well.”
Matt Taylor’s Grecians missed out on the play-offs by a point last season having reached play-off finals in consecutive years before that. This season they are amongst the forerunners in League Two, even topping the table after a 10-match unbeaten start in the league.
A 690-mile round trip to Hartlepool United on Tuesday night in an FA Cup Second Round replay ended in defeat, bringing to an end another unbeaten run – this time eight in all competitions. Nevertheless Exeter are unbeaten in three league games, keeping two clean sheets and winning their last two.
While they will provide tough opponents, The Gaffer hopes that whatever side he chooses will turn out a performance to match.
“Exeter have had a great first half of the season, there are some real good teams in this league and we’re nearly all the way through playing all of them at least once, obviously we haven’t played Exeter yet so we’ll see them for the first time, but we know their talents.
“For me, as I say we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and our own performance levels, and for me we know what we’re capable of when we have our best team, when we have our players in the best frame of mind, and that’s what we’ve got to try and reproduce on Saturday.
“We know week in, week out, regardless of where a team are in the league and their position that the opposition are prepared, motivated, they’re fit and they want to win games so that doesn’t change from one Saturday to the next.”
Mark Shelton has joined Hartlepool United on loan until mid-January this week, adding to the short-term loans of Jake Beesley (Solihull Moors), Martin Smith (Chorley), Tom Walker and Devante Rodney (both Stockport County).
The Gaffer commented: “When we decided to loan these guys out we did so with the purpose of them gaining more experience, of improving their quality, their attributes, playing week in, week out in good teams and The National League will do that.
“Shelts has gone out to Hartlepool, it didn’t quite work out for him at Woking but I spoke to Dave Challinor a couple of weeks ago about what he was looking for, they’ve followed that up with taking Mark Shelton across and we think Shelts will do a really good job for them.
“We want all our players, but certainly our younger ones who are out on loan, they’re not ‘out of sight, out of mind’, we want them to go out there, do well and show what sort of players they are.”
There are no fresh concerns or worries amongst the rest of the squad.
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