• Nathan Smith

Exeter City manager Matt Taylor 'under no illusions' ahead of Salford clash

Updated: Mar 19

Recently crowned Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month Matt Taylor believes that Exeter City are in for a tough test as they welcome an in-form Salford City to St James Park.

The Grecians have a chance to go second with a win against a side who have not lost in their last five league games, which includes an impressive 2-1 win away to Swindon, and holding league leaders Forest Green to a 1-1 draw.

Speaking ahead of the game, Taylor stated: "We know Salford, strong team, very good players for the level.

"They’ve been very consistent since January, a strong recruitment window for them, they brought in a Championship centre-forward in Matt Smith, got pace and power beside him in (Brandon) Thomas-Asante, and got real quality across the board, they’ve been consistent as of late, probably their best run of consistency since they’ve been in League Two.

"It shows you that they’re moving in the right direction with their experience and quality manager, we are under no illusions how difficult Saturday will be, but as always it’s in our own hands and if we give ourselves a platform and an opportunity to perform, and then add a little bit of quality to our endeavour and our will, which has been constantly on show, hopefully it will be another quality game of football.

"I’ve turned up to the training ground and it’s been pretty brutal weather conditions, but hopefully that doesn’t have an effect on tomorrow."

Exeter will be without centre-back Jonathan Grounds, who picked up a calf injury against Swindon, but players are starting to become available for Taylor towards the end of the season.

"We lost Jonathan Grounds on Tuesday night, the scans aren’t particularly good, it’s not a strain, more so a tear in that calf muscle, so he’s going to be out for a longer period of time then we first expected and that’s a real shame for Jonathan as he’s had to be patient on the back of Alex (Hartridge) in the first half of the season and off the back of Cheick’s (Diabate) form in the first half of this new year.

"He’s been a consistent performer when he’s played and has contributed to goals as well, so we are disappointed to lose Groundsy. Harry Kite’s probably still a few weeks away from being outside in terms of training but Padraig Amond is back available again after his surgery on the abscess getting removed, but the rest of the group aren’t looking too bad.

"Cheick Diabate was outside but unopposed again yesterday, so Saturday will probably be too soon to involve Cheick, then it’s a race against time to see if he’s fit for Tuesday."

This marks the second of three straight home games, and Taylor knows that it is imperative for his side to focus on one game at a time instead of trying to work out the league table.

"I don’t really look at the league table too much at the moment, there’s still too much to come, too many points to play for, too many games left. We’ve just got to concentrate on the next fixture, luckily that’s a home fixture so there’s no travelling involved.

"It’s an environment and a game we are looking forward too, but a good, strong opposition who are on good form themselves.

"As soon as Tuesday night was done in regards to the positive Swindon result, our focus was straight on Salford, as soon as Salford is done, we will focus on Crawley.

"We are not at the stage yet to judge the league table, if this team’s beat that team, that’ll put us in position x/y/z, it’s very much a case of trying to stay where we are, or close to it and stay within that chasing pack."

The Grecians will move into the automatic promotion places with a win, while a win for Salford will see them edge closer to the play-off places.