JAKE Taylor is confident Exeter City can use the bitter experience of last season’s play-off heartbreak as motivation to secure automatic promotion.
Last term, the Grecians rose from bottom of the table in November to a fifth-placed finish before their promotion hopes were left in tatters after losing to Blackpool in the play-off final at Wembley.
Now Exeter are better off in terms of points than they were at this stage last season having flirted with the top seven for the majority of the campaign.
And with seven games left, the race for the top three is set for a gripping climax.
Exeter midfielder Taylor played in last season’s play-off final and hopes the Grecians can use the disappointment felt that day as a platform to taste success this term.
He said: “We missed out on promotion last season at the final hurdle having worked so hard to get there.
“But every experience provides opportunities to learn lessons.
“The defeat can only help us as a team.
“You only have to look at the reaction at the start of this season to see how we have responded.
“Everyone in the squad is desperate to get promotion and anything we can take from last season will serve us well.
“We haven’t achieved anything yet, but we are in a good position.
“If you win a couple of games in this league everything changes. If you can put a little run together it puts you in a great position.
“As long as we are in there going into the last few games we will be in with a shout. We are looking upwards and aiming to finish as high as we can.
“No one would have thought Accrington would be clear at the top. That could be us if we string together a run.
“There are plenty of points to play for, there will be lots of twists and turns and we are excited about the end of the season.
“The key is not to get too high when we win games and not too low when we don’t. All I know is we are together as a team and singing from the same hymn sheet.”
Exeter have been hit by a central defensive injury curse after Jordan Moore-Taylor was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee problem and Troy Brown was also sidelined.
The double blow has presented an opportunity for academy product Jordan Storey to press his claims for a first-team spot and he has not disappointed.
His pace, reading of the game and positional awareness has seen him make an encouraging start to his Exeter career and he has certainly seized his chance with real maturity.
Taylor has been impressed from what he has seen from the 20-year-old, adding: “He has worked so hard
for this opportunity.
“He is quick, strong and has been working closely with the backroom staff and they have looked after him.
“We have all been there before where you are waiting for an opportunity and whenever it comes you have to be ready to take it. He has definitely done that.
“We have got cover in the central defensive areas like Troy Archibald-Henville, Dan Seaborne and Luke Croll. It shows how good our squad is.
“Jordan is someone who looks like he has played many league games. It is great to see him doing so well.”
At the other end of the pitch, Jayden Stockley is justifying the £100,000 fee Exeter shelled out to buy him from Aberdeen thanks to a number of impressive performances.
The striker notched his 18th goal of the season in the win over Swindon, silencing the Robins’ boo-boys who claimed he feigned injury after getting knocked to the turf.
Stockley was on the receiving end of some rough treatment against Swindon, something he is going to have to get used to as opposition teams target Exeter’s attacking focal point.
Taylor said: “He always puts his body on the line and puts his head in where he probably shouldn’t.
“But that is Jayden; he has been fantastic since signing and scored some vital goals.
“I would rather have him in my team than playing against him. He is definitely one of the best strikers in the league and has scored lots of goals despite missing a few games at the beginning of the season.
“But it is not all of his responsibility to score. It is up to the rest of us to chip in.”