"WHAT A FANTASTIC CORE GROUP WE HAVE": MATT TAYLOR SPEAKS AHEAD OF CAMBRIDGE FA CUP TIE
Exeter City will be looking to cause a small cup upset this Saturday as they take on League One Cambridge United in the 2nd round of the FA Cup at the Abbey Stadium.
The Grecians secured the fixture on Tuesday night, as they beat Bradford 2-1 in a 're-replay', after Exeter used six substitutes in the original replay.
However, they will be looking to avoid any controversy as they go to a Cambridge team that have built onto their promotion to League One last season, and currently sit 16th, having impressed many this season.
Matt Taylor is aware of the challenge that Cambridge provide, but he knows that his team are capable of winning this weekend.
"It’s the hardest draw you can get at this point of the season, away from home against a League One club.
"It’s a free hit for ourselves, there’s no pressure on Exeter City, after what happened in the first three games with Bradford, we are going to try and enjoy this weekend.
"We want to put in a performance that will give us an opportunity to win any game of football and we know how well Cambridge did last season and their form this season.
"It’s incredible because I watched there last three or four games and that involved playing against Sunderland and Wigan, and some of the monsters of football, let alone at League One level.
"We go in there as a League Two club away from home but we know if we play at our best, it will be a good game of football."
Unfortunately, Exeter will be without Timothee Dieng, who recently signed a contract extension with the club, but aside from that, the Grecians will have most players available.
The Grecians manager was especially encouraged by Sam Stubbs who played 70 minutes for the first time since his arrival at the club in January 2020.
"Generally we are not in a bad place, really pleased Sam Stubbs got to the 70 minute mark but the way he looked and he moved in that period of time was really promising.
"The rest of the group's ok, we expect to be without Tim Dieng this weekend and possibly moving forward, he picked up what looked like a quad strain on Tuesday night, which is a real shame because he scored a goal and captained the team on Tuesday, but we expect to be without him, not for a long period of time but for a couple of fixtures."
However, Exeter will have an extra attacker available as Padraig Amond has been cleared to play since his parent club Newport County have been eliminated from the FA Cup.
With fixtures coming thick and fast for the League Two side, Taylor believes that he may need to look after a few players going into a busy period.
"Our first port of call is to see who’s physically in the best position to play that game of football, we’ve got Tim’s (Dieng) injury but there are players who are creaking, their bodies are straining a little bit from the amount of games we are playing.
"We’ll assess the likes of Pierce Sweeney, Alex Hartridge and all the personnel within that to see if they are fit and available first and foremost.
"And maybe that will simplify our preparation going into the weekend, where we get our fittest team, our team with the most energy on the pitch to start the game."
Their has been plenty of praise for the Exeter fans as of late, and Taylor was keen to echo that, as well as offering his perspective on it.
"It shows our supporters are different, they originally came out on a cold Tuesday night to support us and went home happy, then they had to do it again for a third time or a second time in terms of the home fixture off the back of that, so what a fantastic core group we have.
"It also reflects that they want to watch us at the moment, hopefully they are seeing a certain brand of football, players they can relate too and they want to see on the pitch and they want to feel that connection with, so that’s a great reflection on our club, our performances and our fans as well."
Both teams will be looking to win on Saturday, with hopes of drawing a big money tie in the third round of the FA Cup.