A welcome victory on Wednesday night will have lifted the spirits at City, although the fact Troy Brown added to the massed ranks of the missing will have been a blow as City head into a second home game in quick succession against Notts County. Word is a couple of the injured players are close to a return which should at least mean Paul Tisdale can name a more balanced bench which has seen a complete lack of midfielders the last couple of games – something which was perhaps shown up against Cambridge when David Noble was suffering late on and could perhaps have been rested. Tom Nichols, restored to the starting line-up, finally notched his first goal from open play this season and will hope now to go on a decent run.
Following relegation last season, Notts County underwent something of a rebuilding exercise, making somewhere around 30 signings, including that of ex-City skipper Scot Bennett. Bennett, however, failed to make an impact and has been shipped out on loan to Newport so he won’t have a chance to remind the City faithful of his abilities. Boss Ricardo Moniz has the expectation of an expensive squad plus the burden of trying to mould his large squad into a team worthy of the bookies’ prediction of an instant return to League One. As it is a distinct lack of consistency, as one might expect from such a background, means the Magpies go into the visit to City in 15th place in the table having won just one of their last five matches. Key to their fortunes will be Izale McLeod and Liam Noble, both of whom have scored five goals in all competitions this season, while Roy Carroll in goal remains a colossal presence even at 38.
The last time Notts County made the long trip down to Exeter was for a Tuesday night fixture early in City’s 2011/12 relegation season. An Alan Sheehan Own Goal put City ahead early on but was swiftly cancelled out by Ben Burgess, while the return was a Valentine’s Day to forget for City as the two Hughes’, Lee and Jeff (penalty) sandwiched a goal from Bennett. Overall it is the Magpies with the Football League head to head lead with 15 wins to City’s 7 (16 draws).