Exeter City stay in the mix against the odds ahead of Mansfield Town clash

Exeter City manager Matt Taylor. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Exeter City manager Matt Taylor. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Exeter City remain in contention for the play-offs against the odds ahead of Saturday’s visit of Mansfield Town.

With the changes that went on in pre-season - losing manager Paul Tisdale after 12 years in charge, the most notable one - many were prepared to give new boss Matt Taylor the benefit of the doubt and accept a season of consolidation.

That was despite reaching the last two play-off finals at Wembley.

Taylor then lost captain Jordan Moore-Taylor, who followed Tisdale to MK Dons, and star defender Jordan Storey to Preston, so he was forced into recruiting players in areas he probably didn’t anticipate he would have to.

But a good start raised expectations and, with City being in the top seven virtually all season, Taylor has exceeded supporters’ expectations and had a very good first year in charge.

He started from a good place in that he was popular with the fans as a player and that relationship has grown over the course of this season.

The Exeter fans have a few songs for him and he knows the importance of having them onside, so is not shy in thanking them for turning out at long away trips, for example.

Big-money sales of players like Ollie Watkins, David Wheeler, Jayden Stockley and Jordan Storey have given the club some money to put towards the playing budget and ensure Exeter are competitive.

Losing Stockley in January (16 goals before New Year) was another blow.

It has been a nightmare season as far as injuries are concerned. Troy Brown and Hiram Boateng have missed a large chunk of the campaign and other players have been absent for spells as well, but everyone is pretty much back in contention now.

They just need game time to get right up to speed.

Striker Ryan Bowman was sent off at Notts County on Saturday, so he will be out this weekend, which is a blow for the Grecians.

Teenage right back Kane Wilson, on loan from West Brom, is the current Exeter fans’ darling.

He is only 18, but very attack-minded and is having a superb loan spell.

He spent the early part of the season on-loan at Walsall, where things didn’t really work out. But he returned to Exeter, he was on loan with City last season, and seems to love being there as much as City love having him.

Exeter have several good players, though.

Christy Pym in goal is having an excellent season, Dean Moxey has been a revelation at centre back, Archie Collins has broken through and looks a real talent and City are happy to have Hiram Boateng back in the team again.

Nicky Law is a shoo-in to win the player of the year award after such a superb first season at the club. He is a classy midfield player that appears to be too good for League Two.