Defeat in the Devon Derby is always difficult to take, but the manner of the defeat and the fact it means City have still only won two home league matches in 2016 means feelings amongst the fans have been stretched to breaking point with talks of boycotts and protests. To add to this Ryan Harley became the latest addition to the injury list, limping off just before half time, and has already been ruled out of Saturday’s trip to Stevenage by Paul Tisdale. Tisdale was, however, able to welcome back a couple of his walking wounded with Lee Holmes replacing Harley and Craig Woodman fit enough for the bench. Reuben Reid made his debut, although his lack of match sharpness may mean Tisdale continues to hold him back for now, while David Wheeler is also back in contention to return.
Stevenage were tipped by many to struggle this season, and a position of 16th after the first eight fixtures has done little to dissuade the pundits – although Darren Sarll’s side has pulled off one or two notable wins including a 6-1 hammering of Hartlepool and a 1-0 win at Ipswich in the EFL Cup. Their latest match was a 1-0 defeat at Wycombe. Sarll was busy during the summer with a number of departures and arrivals including Jake Hyde from relegated York and Jobi McAnuff, a player with top flight experience, from Leyton Orient. Nottingham Forest loanee Tyler Walker made a flying start, beating his father Des’ career goalscoring record with a brace in his first match, and he has three from three so far so will need to be watched closely.
City edged the honours last season taking four points from this fixture – the corresponding fixture saw Jayden Stockley make a superb cameo from the bench, scoring twice late on to give City a 2-0 win. Earlier in the season the Sky TV cameras were in town and the sides put on a real show in a thrilling 3-3 draw. David Wheeler put City ahead before Clinton Morrison finally scored his first City goal with a stunning bicycle kick. It was 2-2 by half time, however, as Dean Parrett and Ben Kennedy brought Stevenage level. Wheeler hit a stunning strike with 10 minutes left to make it 3-2 before an equally stunning effort from Chris Whelpdale in stoppage time gave Teddy Sheringham’s Stevenage a share of the spoils. City have the slight edge in league fixtures with 5 wins to Stevenage’s 4 (7 draws).
Match Officials for the game are:-
Referee: Ollie Yates
Assistant Referees: Paul Hobday and Marc Wilson
Fourth Official Garry Maskell
This is Ollie’s first season refereeing in the Football League.
Details of last season’s encounter can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?sp_event=4080