Paul Tisdale has backed striker Guillem Bauza to play an influential role in Exeter City’s season – if he can steer clear of injuries.
The former Spain Under-21 international has been plagued by problems ever since he arrived at St James’ Park, but he made his first start on home soil since the Capital One Cup defeat to Crystal Palace back in August in last Saturday’s stalemate against Aldershot Town.
Despite a chronic lack of first-team football this season, Bauza can be pleased with his performance as he looked Exeter’s most effective attacker against a stubborn, physical and resilient Aldershot side, and Tisdale hopes there is plenty more to come from the Mallorca-born 28-year-old.
“I think he did extremely well for someone who has not played 90 minutes for a long time,” Tisdale said. “He gave us a focal point and he upset their defenders. I would like the ball to have gone beyond him more in the first half than it did for Jamie [Cureton], but I thought Guillem did extremely well.
“I still think that, if he can stay injury free, he will come good again for us. He hasn’t started a game here since the Crystal Palace game and he was exceptional for us that night.
“A large part of my planning for this year was to play him in home games, but he hasn’t been available to us, so hopefully he can pick up off the back of Saturday’s game and build his game again and make very good strides towards the last third of the season. I think he can make a very big impact for us.”
Bauza has featured in only 14 of the Grecians’ 33 npower League Two and cup games this campaign, and his solitary goal came in the 3-0 win at Accrington Stanley back in August. He started the recent Devon derby at Torquay United, where he played the first half before being replaced by Alan Gow. That was his first outing for two months, with his previous appearance coming as a late substitute in the 1-0 win at Bradford City.
Saturday’s game against the Shots was a tough for one for Bauza and the rest of Exeter’s attacking players, but they will be looking to put that goalless stalemate behind them when they travel to Morecambe this weekend.
The Grecians have already won a club record-equalling nine times away from St James’ Park this season, in a stark contrast to their home form. They have won only four times in 16 League attempts.
“No game is easy to go into, but it presents us with no fear whatsoever,” Tisdale said, looking ahead to the long trek north. “We will go into that game and pick a side to play and, other than a tortuous, long journey, we will go into the game relaxed and optimistic.”
Asked whether his players find it easier to play away from St James’ Park and are more relaxed than they seem in home fixtures, Tisdale said: “Yes, absolutely. There is no question of it.
“I don’t think we did badly on Saturday, it just wasn’t a day to put ten to 15 passes together. It was a day for the basics being done well.
“We just have to be consistent, but if we continue to keep clean-sheets and be hard to beat then we are not going to be far away.”
The City chief added: “We have to trust ourselves. The players have to trust each other like I’m trusting them, the supporters need to trust what we are doing because I don’t think we’ll be far away from it.
“It’s a tough league, we just need everyone to stay with it. It always goes to the end, we just have to be consistent. I think we are improving as a team, I really do.
“I just ask the supporters to keep supporting and pushing. We have to be behind each other because it will go all the way.
“We are not in bad shape. We could be in better shape and you always want more. We should have done better at St James’ Park, but I don’t think Saturday was one of those days. We did pretty well in the conditions.”