Since sinking to the bottom of the table with the injury time defeat at Carlisle, City have played eight, won six, drawn two – scoring 17 and conceding just two in the process. City’s free-scoring form continued at Grimsby last week with a convincing 3-0 win, but Saturday represents possibly the sternest test of City’s resolve as Colchester visit boasting an equally impressive run of form. Paul Tisdale is grateful that the treatment room is looking less busy now with Lee Holmes now the only real long term first XI absentee. Luke Croll’s loan has been extended until the end of the season but the Crystal Palace defender will likely remain on the bench. Jack Stacey could make his final appearance in City colours on Saturday with his loan due to expire on Monday and no news as of yet (Thursday) as to whether his loan will be extended.
Colchester have had a very up and down season so far – they started strongly, dropped like a stone then rose again, and go into Saturday’s fixture in the final playoff place on the back of an almost identical record to City’s in recent times (one more victory as they played, and won, on FA Cup 3rd Round day while City had the day off). This run led to manager John McGreal pipping Paul Tisdale to the December Manager of the Month prize with an identical record in the month. The Us did suffer a blip on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at bottom club Newport, but this halted a run of five straight wins including a 4-1 thumping of Carlisle. Like City Colchester are blessed to have a number of players in good goalscoring form with no player yet recording 10 goals for the season – joint top scorers are Kurtis Guthrie and Chris Porter with nine each. Defender Ben Dickenson with seven is clearly a handful at set pieces.
The reverse fixture saw a shock result as high flying Colchester hosted a City side yet to record a victory, yet it was the visitors who left with the points in a thrilling 3-2 win. City took an early lead through Robbie Simpson (yes, he has scored!), which was cancelled out immediately by Sammie Szmodics. Guthrie ensured the hosts would be 2-1 up at the break before City rallied through goals from Ollie Watkins and Joel Grant. The last time Colchester made the trip to the Park was in the 11/12 season, where Duguid’s goal was cancelled out by a goal that was credited to Jamie Cureton even if it had more than a hint of OG about it. City have the league head to head lead with 26 wins to Colchester’s 24 (19 draws).
The match officials for the game are:-
Rob has refereed five Exeter games in the past, details of those games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=rob+lewis
Last time we met at St James Park, Saturday 31 march 2012 and the game details can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?sp_event=4347