• Kieran Horn


Matt Jay has highlighted former Exeter City midfielder Jake Taylor as the “most influential” player to him after being named as the Grecians captain for the 2021/22 season.

Following Taylor’s departure in the summer, Jay was given the captaincy after becoming a pivotal first team player while also notching a remarkable 23 goal contributions in League Two last season.

Taylor, who made the decision to join Stevenage in order to be closer to home, was the skipper at St James Park for three of the five season he plied his trade in Devon, helping City reach three League Two play-off finals.

Having played alongside Taylor as captain for a few seasons, Jay admitted he felt he could take many important characteristics into his game that the Welshman used.

“I think probably most influential to me was Jake,” said Jay. “Last year and the season before, just because he was probably the most similar person to what I was, so it was quite relatable.

“As everyone knows he was a really good guy first and foremost. I think that goes a long way and again he probably wasn’t the most vocal coming into the fray, he learnt as he went and I think his performances backed that up.

“He was always in the action and always wanting to do well. He was on the pitch for the vast majority of games and I think that is very important.

“That was what Matt (Taylor) said to me before the start of the season, he knew that unless I start having a real horror show, I should be out there most of the time as long as my performances continue, so for relatability, it was definitely Jake.”

As well as his new responsibility with the armband, Jay has also been able to continue his great form in front of goal finding the back of the net seven times this season, three of which have come in his last three games.

Ryan Bowman’s transfer to Shrewsbury in the summer window caused some worries amongst the City fans regarding a main goal threat. However, Jay has been helped by recent acquisition Sam Nombe in the goals department, and he has heavily praised the former MK Dons forwards recent form as well as his relationship with other attacking signings in Jevani Brown and Padraig Amond.

“He is (Sam Nombe) certainly confident and he’s backing that up at the moment,” he said. “You can do what you want when you’re scoring goals and helping the team out.

“He’s become a bit of a fans favourite which is great. It takes the pressure off people if he’s very confident and he’s doing well then, we can feed off that.

“And personally, the relationship that I have with him, as well as Jevani (Brown) and Podge (Padraig Amond) is great. I think it was a very good signing from Matt.

“He brings something different; he makes bad balls become good balls and he’ll bring people into play and his all-round game has improved dramatically from the start of the season up until now.

“Working under Tis (Paul Tisdale) at MK Dons and (Steve) Perryman, a lot of messages got passed onto me that he was going to be a very good player and fingers crossed that his rich vein of form continues because it’s only going to be good for the team."

Nombe and Jay will both be looking to make it four games on the spin in which they’ve both scored in this weekend's clash with Mansfield Town at SJP.

The Grecians moved into the play-off places following Tuesday's impressive victory against Crawley Town and will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 12 league games.

Meanwhile, the Stags currently occupy 21st place in the table, but Jay believes it’s not a fair reflection of their squad and that the game will most definitely be a challenge.

“They probably shouldn’t be where they are,” he said. “If you look at Mansfield as a club and what they’ve done over the years, they’ve invested heavily in their recruitment and it seems like a very good club to be at.

“The league is so tight this year it feels different to last year and back to the League Two we know because people are down there and then all of a sudden, they win three on the bounce and they’re back up there.

“So, we need to try and keep them down there because we don’t want too many teams coming up behind us.

“They definitely pose a big threat; they’ve got some big lads and some experienced heads in that team that we really need to take action on.

“Fingers crossed we can implement some of the good things we’ve been doing and hopefully come away with the victory this Saturday and it’ll be a very good weeks’ worth of work.”