Town Head Coach Luke Williams has stated that his side won’t be taking anything for granted when they lock horns with Exeter City this evening (7.45pm Kick-Off).
Just a single point would be enough to seal the Reds’ place in the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy, although a victory would ensure that they finish top of Southern Group C.
However, with Exeter needing a victory to prolong their stay in the competition, Williams has insisted that his players will be up for the fight when they take to the field at St James Park later.
“I think it will be a very competitive game. I watched them play Chelsea’s U21s and Chelsea had lots of the ball and moved it very, very quickly but Exeter were strong and they didn’t buckle under that,” he said.
“Then when they had their opportunity to go forward they really made it count and at one point they were 3-0 up, so they are not going to be a soft touch or a walkover, they are not going to be a team who have only got one dimension and just kick the ball forward, they are going to be a team that can hurt you on the break, they are going to be a team that is going to be comfortable to have the ball for longer periods of time and they are going to be tough.
“They are going to be ready for the physical challenge and ready to run and press and fight, so we know it is not going to be a walkover by any stretch of the imagination.
“Form goes out of the window tonight and we need to be respectful and go there fully expecting them to be confident of themselves and back themselves, especially at home.
“We won’t look at their home record and we won’t read anything into that.
“So many of the players are not thinking about anything else other than to perform to the top of their ability and to try and give me a problem in terms of keeping them in the team and selecting them more often.
“There are so many boys in there driven to perform that they won’t think about the bigger picture.
“We’ve got a chance to go to the next stage of the Checkatrade Trophy and it is a fantastic opportunity to play in some big games and then to ultimately play at Wembley.”
Town will make a few changes for tonight’s game and Williams sees it as a real opportunity for some of the club’s younger players to stake a claim for a regular place in Town's starting XI.
“Some of the players that would be regarded as fringe players may become first-team regulars and it is only through opportunity that they are going to be able to prove that,” Williams continued.
“Potentially some of the players coming in are going to be first-choice in the near future and if they perform well in this competition then there is a chance for me to make that decision, so I don’t feel we weaken the team drastically by putting players in that haven’t played regularly in the league.
“We are strong and it is still a good opportunity to try and give somebody a chance to show that they can perform to the next level.
“There will be changes but I don’t think that weakens us as much as maybe some people think.
“Ellis Iandolo has played a number of games in the league as well and it is fantastic for us as a football club and it is great for the boys to get on the pitch so early on in their careers.
“Hopefully the boys recognise the opportunity that is in-front of them and take it.”