• Nathan Smith


After Tuesday’s heroic display in Newport, Matt Taylor is looking to keep Exeter City’s unbeaten run going as they host Grimsby Town at St James Park.

Despite two red cards in the first half, the Grecians held firm to keep promotion chasing Newport County to only draw 1-1.

Taylor was proud of his side’s effort but is all too aware of the effects that such a hard shift can have on his players, but that might not be an immediate one.

“Sometimes that next game isn’t the worst one, that fatigue may kick in on Tuesday or the following weekend, so it’s trying to see who’s reacting well to certain aspects and what we are asking them to do.”

Exeter know the value of starting the next game well as they don’t want to be in a position of having to chase a game, especially after the Newport game.

“When you’ve not got it in your legs it’s certainly not a day or the conditions to be chasing a game and we want to be level or ahead for as long as we possibly can. That means playing well to start with, and being strong and being structured, not too dissimilar to the way we finished the other night but with more players on the football pitch.”

There is some good news on the injury front for Exeter, as Lewis Page and Rory McCardle are available for selection, although Taylor thinks it may be too soon for both players.

“It’ll depend on how Jack Sparkes is feeling tomorrow, as supposed to whether we throw Lewis (Page) straight in back in and Rory’s done enough contact training now to feel comfortable putting him back on the pitch.”

“The likes of Pierce Sweeney, Tom Parkes and Jack Sparkes were part of a really impressive defensive display, but I’ve got to be mindful and need to freshen up the team, but with so many games to come, Saturday may come as too soon for those two, but great to have them available.”

With Ryan Bowman out for three games due to suspension, a huge opportunity comes for Ben Seymour, but with a completely different style to Ryan Bowman, Taylor is aware of how that could affect the team for Saturday’s game.

“Ben’s (Seymour) such a young lad, it’s difficult in terms of setting up a team where you’ve just got Ben leading the line and that’s no disrespect to Ben Seymour, he’s not the same physical profile of a Alex Fisher or Ryan Bowman.”

“You’ve got to think about how you set the team up and how that affects other players, the success of the likes of Joel Randall, Randell Williams, Matt Jay and Robbie Wilmott in recent weeks, has partly been done to Ryan’s physical presence to disrupt and affect the opposition so Alex Fisher and Ben Seymour are in contention to lead the line for us this weekend.”

One name not in contention is Nicky Ajose, with Taylor stating that a knee injury that prevents him training on astro-turf being the main reason, but not the only one.

“Nicky’s (Ajose) still not training because we are still on the astro-turf, and that’s the way it is until we see more from him in training and let’s be honest, I’ve got to trust this group of players I’m working with at the moment, I trust Ben (Seymour) and I trust Alex Fisher, I trust Ryan (Bowman) to be a similar animal when he comes back for the remaining 16/17 games.”

Exeter take on a Grimsby side that sit bottom of the league but have a good record against the Grecians, and with plenty of January business, Taylor has seen enough of the Mariners to know how tough of a test they will be.

“A manager with League Two knowhow has come back in, brought some of his own personnel in terms of the players, got a physical threat at both ends of the pitch in terms of (James) Hanson, (Stefan) Payne and (Lenell) John-Lewis, and some strong centre halves.”

“They’ve got a huge squad, we do a match-prep on a Thursday and their squad is incredible when you see the talent they’ve got and the depth of talent, and the amount of bodies they’ve got as well.”

A win for Exeter could see them move as high as fourth so they will be looking to pile on the misery onto a struggling Grimsby side who themselves will be desperate for a win at St James Park.