If the celebration of Paul Tisdale’s 500th game could be likened to a birthday party, it was one where the venue forgot to order any food, a fight broke out and the birthday boy caught his other half in flagrante with his best mate. Any defeat at home, especially given City’s record at home in recent seasons, is hard to take, but it was the nature of the 4-1 humiliation that has provoked major reactions amongst the supporters and Paul Tisdale himself, who described the performance as “dismal”.
The next few games will therefore shape the season – get back on track and City can still point to the faint possibility of a run to the playoffs, continue to play as they’ve done in the last few matches and City might end up looking over their shoulder to the teams at the bottom. With that in mind City head to Hertfordshire on Saturday hoping to earn a first win in five matches against a Stevenage side which appears to have lifted itself out of the relegation dogfight. It’s probably safe to say the experiment of Lee Holmes at left back wasn’t a success, so Jamie McAllister ought to reclaim his spot, while Christian Ribeiro may be fit to play after his knock at York. Ollie Watkins was one bright spot off the bench on Tuesday and will hope to have done enough to earn himself a starting place, while City continue to await the return of David Noble.
When Stevenage and the colourful Graham Westley parted ways in the summer, Boro took a punt on a big name with no previous experience in Teddy Sheringham. It’s safe to say results weren’t quite what Stevenage and their supporters hoped for, and a few weeks ago Sheringham departed. No permanent appointment has yet been made although caretaker Darren Sarll has done his chances of landing the job no harm with a couple of successive wins including a 2-0 defeat of in-form Cambridge a couple of weeks back. Player turnover has been borderline ridiculous and could point to their lack of form this season – 43 players have featured with several more having been named as unused subs. Stevenage’s top scorer remains Chris Whelpdale, although he last featured on Boxing Day, while Byron Harrison returned to the club on loan and scored both goals on debut in that win over Cambridge.
Sky TV chose, presumably due to Sheringham, to screen the reverse fixture back in October, and neutrals would have thanked the broadcaster as they were served up a treat. David Wheeler put City in front before Clinton Morrison finally broke his City duck in fine style with an overhead kick. By half time though it was 2-2 thanks to goals from Parrett and Kennedy. Wheeler scored another stunner to put City back in front before an injury time piledriver from Whelpdale ensured a share of the spoils. The corresponding fixture last season was a far more sedate 1-0 win for the hosts with a goal from Charlie Lee. The sides are level in the league head-to-heads with four wins apiece (seven draws).
The match officials are:-
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Assistant Referees: Nigel Lugg and Matthew Buonassisi
Fourth Official Lee Venamore
Dean has officiated 6 Exeter games, including last season’s trip to Stevenage http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=whitestone