Time is running out for Paul Tisdale in his attempts to keep Exeter in League One and it seems desperate times call for desperate measures. The dapper dugout-dweller has cobbled together a collection of waifs and strays in the past couple of weeks to maintain lingering hopes and we should back him to guide them to victory over deflated Colchester on Saturday.
The Grecians are currently second from bottom, eight points adrift of safety, following a wretched seven-match sequence that has seen them pick up just one point from a possible 21. But fate might have lent them a helping hand in pairing them with John Ward's men this weekend and the Devon club can benefit from lowered expectations combined with having a week to prepare.
It's not normally Tisdale's style to seek short-term solutions from the loan market and unattached list but nobody will hold this final throw of the dice against him in the face of an injury crisis and he's picked up a fair amount of pedigree in Jonathan Fortune, Pat Baldwin, Jamie Cureton and Alan Gow.
They might all be players whose best days are behind them but they all have something to prove on a personal level and they should possess enough intelligence to implement the manager's game plan much better than the inexperienced bodies he was being forced to field prior to their arrival.
However, perhaps most crucially of all, is the return of David Noble who returned to the fold at Tranmere last week after a three-game absence through injury. He's the chief enforcer of Tisdale's ideas, setting the tempo in the centre of midfield, and he's liable to be more effective now that he has others around him operating on the same wavelength.
Together, they've had a full week to lick their wounds and regroup following a 2-0 reverse at Prenton Park, while Colchester have put themselves through the emotional wringer at Walsall, going down 3-1 after taking the lead in a much-anticipated game in hand that was considered pivotal to their play-off push.
The U's are now nine points adrift of the top six and while Ward is trying to take the disappointment of defeat at the Bescot in his stride, it's clear that all around him believe the dream has died. It was fun while it lasted but a nine-match unbeaten sequence through late February and March will ultimately lead to nothing.
Survival for the Grecians is looking increasingly unlikely but where there's life there's hope and they merit an interest at a shade over 2/1.
1pt Exeter to beat Colchester at 85/40 (Bet Victor)