In the end a week off was probably not what the doctor ordered given City’s recent form, although no doubt Paul Tisdale’s squad will have welcomed the opportunity for a rest. What looked like an innocuous injury to Lee Holmes on Boxing Day has turned out to be more serious so City supporters will be denied the opportunity to see their mercurial winger in action for a while, but otherwise the injury news is generally good with Troy Archibald-Henville finally returning to the pitch for his first league action since rejoining the club. Ryan Harley’s comeback continued with a brace on his first start back from his layoff, while the week off will have given Reuben Reid and Craig Woodman an opportunity to be pain-free having played through knocks and missed games over the festive period.
Like City, Grimsby go into Saturday’s match on the back of a decent recent run of form which has seen the Mariners run up three wins and a draw since Christmas including an eye-catching 3-1 win at promotion-chasing Carlisle. This represents an upturn in form for new manager Marcus Bignot, who took over when Paul Hurst moved up a division to Shrewsbury – Grimsby won just one of their first nine matches under Bignot (that a stunning 3-0 win against that lot down the A38) before their recent run which currently sees them in 10th place. Key to their fortunes was how to replace last season’s National League top scorer Padraig Amond, which was successfully achieved by looking within their squad to Omar Bogle, who has scored an impressive 18 goals in just 22 starts and has attracted near 7-figure bids from Championship clubs in the process during the January transfer window.
The forecast for snow from today (Thursday) has City fans remembering the last time they made the long trip to Cleethorpes in the 08/09 season. City requested the game be postponed as they were told in no uncertain terms not to leave snowbound Devon, but this request fell on deaf ears and instead the squad, and around 70 fans, made an even longer than usual journey. They were treated to a fine 2-2 draw – Marcus Stewart gave City the lead, Nathan Jarman fired a double to put the hosts 2-1 up before Ryan Harley equalised. The reverse fixture this season saw City finally register a home point in early October thanks to a 0-0 draw that won’t live long in the memory. Grimsby hold the Football League head to head lead with 11 wins to City’s seven (seven draws).
The match officials for this game are:-
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistant Referees: Joe Simpson and Graeme Fyvie
Fourth Official Carl Boyeson
Ben Toner’s last game in charge of Exeter, was back in October 2015 in a 2-0 defeat to Barnet.
Details of the last time we met at Blundell Park http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?sp_event=4573