Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale believes the unpredictable nature of derby matches means the Grecians’ indifferent home form will not be a factor in this weekend’s clash with Plymouth Argyle.
The two Devon sides go head to head for the first time in just over a year at noon on Saturday at St James’ Park.
City’s home form has been under scrutiny in the run-up to the eagerly awaited fixture, with five defeats, two draws and just three wins coming at the Park this season.
Unusually, it is the Grecians’ away form which has seen them mount a solid npower League Two play-off push, but Tisdale thinks that City’s difficulties at home are not likely to come into play in Saturday’s match.
“We know that, at home, we have not been as good as we would have hoped for, so that is something we have to improve,” City’s manager said. “But we also know that, being a local derby, the form guide tends to go out of the window as well and it is more about what happens on the day.
“They are often a very different type of game, and previous form has very little bearing on the result.
“I’m confident in the long-term that we will find a way of consistently getting good results at home,” the Exeter chief continued. “We do enjoy playing at the Park and we always want to win our home games, including this Saturday.”
Despite a lack of home comforts, Tisdale’s men still head into the match on a decent run of form. Their last six games have yielded four wins, one draw and a solitary defeat – at home to Rotherham United three weeks ago.
They will be further boosted by the return of Scot Bennett from suspension, while fellow midfielder Tommy Doherty could feature if he can shake off a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the 3-2 win at Rochdale last weekend.
“Tommy was not quite ready to play last Saturday, so there will certainly be some debate as to whether he should play this weekend or not,” Tisdale explained.
“We will have Scot Bennett back from suspension, though, and that is certainly a big boost for us.
“Having Scot back, and possibly Tommy too, will certainly give us some more options in midfield, which would be a real advantage.”
Perhaps the biggest boost for Tisdale in the run-up to the derby is the form his forward line is currently displaying. The Grecians have managed 11 goals in their last six matches, with Jamie Cureton bagging six and John O’Flynn four in that sequence.
It was that combination which impressed Tisdale in last Saturday’s Rochdale win, with O’Flynn scoring twice and receiving a glowing reference ahead of the Argyle match. “I don’t mind who scores the goals as a manager, but to see both John and Jamie in good form is very encouraging,” the City boss said.
“It was good to see John get a couple of goals on Saturday. He is such a selfless and unsung player.
“It was also good to see Jamie Cureton get an assist because he worked hard and got something out of it. It’s good to see my strikers linking up so well.”
Argyle will head to St James’ Park as underdogs. They beat York City last weekend to ease the pressure on manager Carl Fletcher, but before that they had not won a game since mid-October.
They currently find themselves fifth from bottom in the table and only three points outside the relegation places. However, Tisdale is well aware that will count for nothing on Saturday.
“I don’t think form or league position will have much bearing on the game,” he said. “I’m delighted with our away form, but I make no secret of the fact that I would like to have better home form.”
Exeter defender Pat Baldwin says he cannot wait for kick-off this Saturday as the atmosphere builds towards the derby at St James’ Park.
It will be the first time Plymouth and Exeter have met in a League game since April 2011, when James Dunne’s volley saw the Grecians gain with a 1-0 League One win.
It will also be Baldwin’s first taste of a Devon derby after he joined City, initially on loan, in March 2012.
The 30-year-old defender, who scored in City’s 3-2 win at Rochdale last Saturday, says it is games like this which all footballers look forward to, and he is no different.
“It is the reason I play football – for games like this,” he said. “It is a really good game that we are all looking forward to and that we are looking to do well in and get three points.”
Baldwin has tasted derby action before when he was at Colchester United. He scored in a heated Essex derby against Southend United in 2006, and he knows what it takes to succeed in these games.
“You can get caught up in the hype of the game,” he said. “In the back of the mind, you have got to realise what a big game it is for the club and the supporters, but at the same time you have to be professional and do a good job.”
The derby will kick off at noon and is an all-ticket match. There will be no on-the-day sales, so City fans who wish to attend have been asked by the club to obtain their tickets by no later than Friday at 5.30pm. Turnstiles will be open to enter St James’ Park from 10.45am.
Argyle have advised their supporters travelling by car that there is no parking available at St James’ Park, and that the area surrounding the ground is restricted to residents. The Matford Park and Ride site is recommended.