Exeter captain Matt Jay believes the club’s unbeaten run shows the progress being made at St James Park and insisted everyone is determined to keep going.
Liverpool’s defeat at West Ham on Sunday saw their 25-match streak without a defeat end, which means the Grecians now boast the best record across teams in England’s top four divisions.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Papa John’s Trophy tie with Bristol Rovers, Matt Taylor’s side had gone 16 games without losing in all competitions since they suffered a 3-0 reverse at Leyton Orient in August.
🗓 IT'S MATCHDAY 👊 A place in round two up for grabs…— Exeter City (@OfficialECFC) November 10, 2021
Jay told the PA news agency: “It was something the players weren’t really aware of up until recently and with Liverpool losing at the weekend we have the record at the moment, so we are in a good place.
“Looking back, we would have liked to have won a couple more of the games we did draw but the unbeaten record speaks for itself and says where we are as a club and team.
“We are in a good place and we have recruited some brilliant players. The staff has remained the same which helps, so we want to keep this going, turn a few of those draws into wins and hopefully find ourselves higher up the table before getting through the cup games.”
Taylor’s side are fourth in Sky Bet League Two after 15 games with eight draws stopping them from being in the automatic promotion places.
While Exeter would welcome a trip to Wembley through the Papa John’s Trophy, Jay admitted they would prefer to avoid the play-offs if possible having come up short under the arch during three of the last five seasons.
“Let’s try and avoid Wembley. If we could avoid that at all costs and go up automatically that would be good,” the attacker added.
“The aim is definitely promotion. Where we are as a club and how it is run, there is everything in place for us to go up.”
Leading Exeter back to League One would be extra special for Jay after he came through the youth team and was this summer made captain.
It has not always been straightforward for the 25-year-old since his debut in 2013 but after he scored 20 times last season, he has picked up where he left off to already reach nine goals this term and continue his best run of form.
Jay admitted: “It was probably the greatest achievement of my career so far and a real privilege to lead the team out for the first game of the season.
“I try to lead from the front with the way I play and it is something I am learning every week. I am really enjoying it and I am very honoured to be captaining this great team.”
While Jay is relishing his time in Devon, a close friend in Ollie Watkins is going through a tricky spell.
The duo progressed through Exeter’s academy into the first-team via a loan at Weston-super-Mare before forward Watkins embarked on his journey to the Premier League, but the five-time capped England international saw Dean Smith leave Aston Villa on Sunday.
He also missed out on Gareth Southgate’s latest Three Lions squad having scored just twice this term, but Jay insisted: “Ollie is often his harshest critic and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but goals are like buses. Once one goes in another couple will follow so I’m fully backing him.
“I know from speaking to Ollie over the years how much Dean did for Ollie and how good a coach and man manager he was, so he will be sad to see him go.
“But I guess on the flipside whoever comes in, he will have to impress and hopefully he can help him get back into the England squad.”
The Papa John’s Trophy group-stage concludes this evening, with EFL research suggesting the 2020/21 competition provided over 100 first team debuts to academy produced EFL players, the highest in recent times.
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