Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTheir toughest season yet - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Their toughest season yet - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Their toughest season yet

So another weekend, another defeat.

Paul Tisdale’s Exeter City travelled to League One favourites Charlton Athletic on Saturday and despite a spirited 10-man display, the Grecians left the Valley with nothing after going down to a 2-0 loss.

Whilst losing at the home of the Title favourites is nothing to be too downbeat about, Exeter have still only managed one win in League One this season and that was a late victory at home to new-boys Chesterfield Town.

I’m not saying that the Grecians are doomed already and anyone who has watched City over the past few years will know that the club will battle to the end both on and off the pitch.

But after narrowly missing out on the play-offs after a late burst of results at the back-end of the last campaign, the pressure is on. For the first time in nearly a decade, the fans are now expecting over-achieving Exeter to do well and this is no doubt going to be Paul Tisdale’s toughest season since his arrival at St James Park.

Exeter currently find themselves third from bottom, with five defeats in their opening 7 fixtures of the year, scoring on just three occasions.

Since taking control of the team back in 2006, Tisdale has managed to improve his side every year both in terms of squad strength and table finish and supporters of the Devon outfit have come to expect a higher finish every new season.

Expectation hasn’t always been so high though.

On Exeter’s return to the football league in 2008, many fans had said in the summer that they simply wanted the club to survive and weren’t even too confident of pulling off that. A year later Exeter had gained automatic promotion from League Two to propel themselves into English football’s third tier after a Richard Logan header sparked a final day victory away at Rotherham.

The following season Tisdale’s fate in the league wasn’t decided until the final 10 minutes of the season as Ryan Harley’s rocket shot insured the Devonians of their status as a League One outfit.

After surviving the first time out, City were expected to improve in their next season in League One but finishing so high may prove to be their downfall this term.

Progressing higher than eighth was always going to be a challenge, but this task has surely been made impossible after the Grecians lost their three best players over the summer.

Captain Matt Taylor is now patrolling Charlton’s defence, top scoring striker Jamie Cureton is plying his trade at Leyton Orient and talisman midfielder Ryan Harley is topping the Championship with Brighton. Exeter have essentially lost their core and look like they’re going to have a big enough task to stay in the division, never mind breaking into the play-off spots.

Exeter have been unfortunate with injuries this term, especially upfront, with the likes of Nicholas Bignall and Rowan Vine being brought in on-loan and it’s no secret that the boss is keen to further add to his squad following the opening of the loan market last Thursday.

Whilst the squad may be light, never rule out Tisdale to bring in a quality player and turn the club’s fortunes around, even if he has brought him some, shall we say, disappointing players to St James Park in the past.

I’m sure that the average Grecian won’t be too downbeat after taking a look at the bigger picture. Exeter is lucky to still have a football club, and being in League One is a monumental achievement given the size of the club and its troubled financial history.

Supporters have been able to enjoy the ride as well with two Wembley visits, a classic comeback in the play-offs at Torquay, final day jubilation as well as a trip to Manchester United.

So for now, fans should stop their moaning and groaning, support the side and be proud of where their team have got to in this cruel football world.

Matt Cotton @FindingCotton

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