Exeter v Pompey: The Opposition View

It has been a bit of a slow start for Exeter, who last weekend picked up their first league win following three successive defeats.

Saturday, 27th August 2016, 10:00 am
Ollie Watkins, left, scored a last-gasp leveller against Pompey last season at St James Park Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Tisdale’s side have not played that badly, just struggled to take chances and looked a bit short of confidence.

This is a campaign in which they are aiming for the play-offs and, encouragingly, won all seven of their pre-season games.

Understandably, hopes were high following that period, but injuries have put a real dampener on their start to the season.

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In recent weeks there have been home defeats to Hartlepool and Crawley, in which Exeter have been short of up to seven players through injury.

It was already a small squad, but now they are steadily returning, hopes are high the climb up the table can begin.

Exeter’s problem continues to be a shocking home record – they have been victorious in only two matches at St James Park in 2016.

They just cannot win at home and are stronger away.

If Pompey can make a good start then the hosts may fold, it is a real concern for the supporters.

Looking at the squad, the summer saw the usual comings and goings and unfortunately Tisdale was unable to get a deal for Jayden Stockley.

The striker impressed with 10 goals in 22 appearances during a loan spell from Bournemouth, but elected to join Aberdeen at the season’s end.

David Noble was released after a second spell at the club – something not well received by supporters who viewed him as a favourite.

Another notable exit was Christian Ribeiro, who linked up with League One side Oxford United.

There have been the arrivals of Lloyd James from Leyton Orient and Robbie Simpson from Cambridge United, so much is expected of them this season.

The club’s finances are not too bad at the moment, in a relatively healthy position to enable Exeter to turn down summer bids from Brentford for Ollie Watkins.

He’s had a bit of a slow start to the season, which perhaps has everything to do with people clocking him and closing down a lot quicker.

Watkins – who scored the equaliser against Pompey last season – is very highly regarded and seen as city’s danger man.

Recently, he’s had a sore back, nothing too serious, and is expected to play this weekend.

If Exeter can string a run together then the play-offs can be achieved – but they also need to avoid injuries.