Luke Joyce on Exeter, good form and his immediate futureMidfielder Luke Joyce looked an absolute shoe-in for the Goal of the Season award when he smashed a stunning strike into the back of the net against Crawley moments before half time in the home game back in October.
Since then stiff competition has cropped up with the latest addition to the mix a curling effort from Nicky Adams which won the game against Newport last weekend.
“Nicky’s was a great goal, to be fair,” Joyce said. “It was a lovely finish on his left foot, but I’m not sure which one is his weaker foot when it comes to him. He’s just very good on both of them.
“I was stood right behind it when he let fly and I could see the keeper couldn’t get close to it. It was a great feeling to see it go in and a great goal in itself. I still think my goal against Crawley was slightly better than that but I’ll give him a pat on the back anyway.
“There have been some good goals overall this season so it’ll be interesting to see which one comes out on top. It’s all a bit of fun, it’s nothing too serious, and whoever wins it on the day I know everybody will be made up for them.”
Speaking about the performance which won a vital three points last Saturday, he said: “It felt good being out there because the confidence was flowing through the team. I thought we played some good football and it was a really good performance.
“We showed great desire and created a lot of opportunities and their keeper made some really good saves. We got the three points and that’s all we were fussed about.”
The win signalled a return to the free-flowing football which took the Blues to the top of the pile before the turn of the year and the combative midfielder insisted that level of performance had never been too far away.
“I think the good performances have always been there,” he said. “We’ve certainly been putting the effort in but for whatever reason it’s either not been good enough on the day or little things have gone against us.
“We have been disappointed in some of our performances but we’ve definitely improved over the last few weeks. The problem we’ve had recently is that we’ve drawn too many of the games we probably should have won. It was nice to put in both a performance and get the victory on Saturday.”
“It’s meant that everybody has had a smile on their face this week and a little jump in their step,” he commented. “Hopefully we’ll take that into Saturday and we’ll get the three points we need. It’s definitely a good time for it all to be clicking again.
“With the form Jabo is in, and the link-up play he has going with Jamie Proctor, it’s allowing others to play off them and things are looking good for us all. The way we’ve played has put it back in our own hands and that’s all we can ask for.
“If we’re not in the play-offs come full time on Saturday we know it’s only down to ourselves. All of the work now is geared towards Saturday. We have to build on the happiness and emotion from last weekend’s game because we don’t want all of that to have been for nothing.
“The fans were brilliant last week and I’m sure it’ll be the same again. Hopefully we’ll repay the faith with the ones who travel down to Exeter as well.”
If United do secure a victory it will be a play-off place guaranteed with just three games sitting between them and a return to League One.
“I’ve been involved with play-offs before and first and foremost it’s an achievement getting in there,” he said. “We’ll be gutted if we don’t. Once you’re in there you’re only two games away from a final at Wembley.
“That would be unbelievable to have on your CV and a fantastic experience. We can’t really think about that until after Saturday because we have to get the job done properly down there first.”
A total of 41 league starts so far has helped to trigger a one-year contract extension which takes him into next season but he admitted that a lot of hard work has gone into making sure that has been the case.
“We went off on our holidays last season and the manager told me he was going to bring in midfielders, which I fully expected,” he explained. “When I saw the quality of the players he brought in I knew it was going to be tough. All I could do was make sure I came back in the best shape possible to give myself the best chance possible of being involved.
“I didn’t start the first game of the season at Portsmouth and I did think I was looking at the manager’s preferred eleven at that time. I knew then that I head to get my head down, work even harder and take my chance as soon as it came.
“I feel like I’ve done that for the majority of the season. It’s a shame that we’ve had the injury to Mike Jones because we had a good partnership going and it was going from strength to strength. These things happen in football but I’ve been pleased that I’ve played the majority of games this season. I’m proud of that.
“The manager has told everyone that the clause was triggered and that happened a number of months ago now. All that’s left is for us to iron a couple of little things out but it’s not in any doubt that I’ll be here next season.”