Exeter City meeting the opposition.
Following their away draw at Bradford City, Tranmere are back in League Two action this Easter Monday as Exeter City travel to Prenton Park for what promises to be a really entertaining encounter between two promotion contenders.
Although Rovers’ form away from home is massively below the standards that they expect from themselves, their home form is the best in the fourth division which is why supporters are left scratching their heads as to why their placed ninth in the table.
Ahead of the game against Exeter, I spoke to City supporter Jamie Dyer who gave his thoughts on how the Grecian’s 2021-22 campaign has panned out. He also gives his relatively strong opinion of Micky Mellon’s side.
Promotion seems a real possibility for Exeter City with the club sat 2nd in the League Two table. What were your expectations going into the season and how would you reflect back on them now? Have they been exceeded?
They certainly have been exceeded.
Many fans were thinking mid table at best due to what seemed like an underwhelming summer which wasn’t helped by key departures with Joel Randall Williams and Jake Taylor all leaving along with the constant promises of “marquee signings”. Having said that they were delivered but were just not who or how we expected it to pan out but we were proved very wrong particularly with Tim Dieng and Jevani Brown who most fans were very sceptical of given their track record but they’ve been influential and I’ll go into more detail later on about them.
If you told me that we would have been second with six games to go in the summer I would laugh in your face but snap your hands off at the same time .
Matt Taylor has been manager of City for coming up to four years now, following his appointment in 2018. What would you say the current supporters’ view of him is?
Matt was seen as the sensible but safe option by many but given his good work at under 23 level and cult status at the club due to his playing days where he won back to back promotions alongside Tisdale thus it was largely well received. However, the thing that impressed most during the early years he managed to build on the foundations that Tisdale left and the football was entertaining which is even better lately with the players we have at our disposal this year and his honest pre and post match interviews are a breath of fresh air.
However, questions have been raised over his future on at least two occasions as a section of fans wanted him gone after yet another 9th place finish along with a unnamed league 1 side coming in for his services but one key thing this year though is he’s finally cultivated a side in his image which has so far been a success.
In short, its been a wild ride and with Matt at the helm with the Chorley native seemingly taking the club on the upward trajectory long may it continue.
Who is the owner of the Grecians and what are your thoughts on them?
Our trust ownership since 2003 has been well documented and it’s gone from strength to strength with each passing year. We’re very proud of it. It’s a model that makes the club unique and it’s how football should be giving the fans the key decision. It enabled us to do just that voting on matters like the new training ground being built, ground developments and it allowed the club to remain stable but also progress.
Who would you say your side’s key players are?
I touched upon this a bit earlier, Tim and Jev (Jevani Brown) have been instrumental to our success this season as has skipper Matt Jay with all three making us tick. Jevani and Tim create chances at will with very silky footwork composure and most importantly an eye for goal.
The backline has been ridiculous since Sam Stubbs has shown why we gambled on him last January despite him not making an appearance until November last year. His partnership with Pierce Sweeny is a big part of why we’ve been unbeaten in 8 and haven’t lost since early March. The 23 year old is calm on the ball and is commanding in the air. I’ve lost count of how many points we’ve won from our defensive displays.
How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes panning out? What is your score prediction?
Tramere have always enjoyed playing us particularly at home having not won at Prenton Park for 7 years and have some good players for this level. Jay Spearing and Kane Hemmings to name a couple. Outside looking in, I think you’ve played some good stuff and are deservedly pushing for a playoff place but just lack confidence and consistency at the moment.
However, City like I mentioned earlier haven’t lost since January (at the time of writing anyway). We’ve been a joy to watch this season going forward, especially with the link up between Jay Jevani and Tim. Also, we’ve kept 16 clean sheets mostly coming away from home which tells you all you need to know but given our record on the Wirral I’ll take a point and say 1-1.
What is Taylor’s preferred playing style?
We take care of the ball, often creating through the flanks with our wing backs usually causing havoc which allows the top 2 and creative midfielders to exploit the extra space. We generally play 3-5-2 but Taylor is not afraid to tinker with it based on in game situations and opposition.
What are your thoughts on Tranmere this season? They’re currently ninth in the table following a run of two wins in eleven games when a promotion place once seemed very achievable.
I touched upon this briefly already, the SWA are a big club in the lower echelons of the EFL and have fantastic support and I’m sure many Rovers fans will be disappointed about how this season has petered out. I’ve been impressed with them for the majority of the season with Clarke, Glatzel and Nevitt all getting good starts but too inconsistently particularly on the goal scoring front and the amount of late goals you’ve been conceding must be damaging in terms of confidence.
Mellon is an experienced manager, a club legend if you will, he sets his teams up well and plays decent football. However, having said that I think you need a change whether that be higher or just Mellon but something needs to be done to address this slide and quite frankly it’s not good enough for a club of your size especially with League Two being as poor as it is this year.
As far as I’m concerned the playoffs are very much gone for the SWA especially with sides in better form above and below.
What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Tranmere v Exeter fixtures?
Only one springs to mind really and that’s the 5-0 thrashing last year.
Finally, touching on the January transfer window, how influential do you believe your incomings and outgoings have been and what do you believe the club will have to do to strengthen themselves in the summer?
January was a nightmare. We brought in Offrande Zanzala on loan who has been hit and miss but has aspects of his game I like but then he was out injured for a while so we had to get another striker in kerian Philips who we haven’t seen much of him though.
The summer promises to be busy especially if we get promoted but it will mainly be trying to keep hold of talent like Josh Key and keeping a good core squad together but the main aim is to convince Cameron Dawson to stay. He’s been superb. The shot stopper has won us numerous points alone and is far too good for league 2 but all this rests on Sheffield Wednesday’s season.
Considering how strong we are financially, I’m looking forward to it .
Prenton Park is the venue for Monday afternoon’s encounter between Tranmere Rovers and Exeter City.