After Tuesday night’s convincing win over fellow high-fliers Wycombe ensured a perfect January, Paul Tisdale was very quick to try to keep City’s feet on the ground and warned against complacency ahead of a match that on paper looks easier than recent encounters but has real banana skin potential. Tisdale made two changes on Tuesday, bringing Robbie Simpson and Joel Grant in from the cold, and while Simpson is unlikely to have forwarded his case much meaning Ollie Watkins will come straight back in, Grant’s goalscoring return to the side will give Tisdale a selection headache, although Grant is likely to return to the bench for Ryan Harley. If David Wheeler scores he will break a City record dating back 80 years by scoring in seven successive matches.
Having been installed amongst the favourites to return to the third tier at the first time of asking, instead Crewe are starting to realise they’re in a battle at the other end of the table. Like City, Crewe registered a win on November 22nd, but while City have since dropped just four points since then, Crewe have instead picked up just three and are winless in that time. The Railwaymen parted company with Steve Davis, but replacement David Artell has failed to halt the slide so far, a 0-0 draw with fellow strugglers Cheltenham last weekend providing some relief. Goals are a problem, this latest run seeing Crewe score just four times. Things weren’t helped in the January window when veteran Ryan Lowe, top scorer in all competitions with nine, rejoined Bury in a player-coach capacity. Attention will turn to youngster Alex Kiwomya, the Chelsea loanee and son of Chris, who has seven goals but hasn’t scored since that win against Morecambe.
Back in September it was a different story as high-flying Crewe despatched struggling City 2-0, the goals coming from Kiwomya and veteran Danny Hollands. Given the clubs’ propensity to avoid each other despite mostly inhabiting the lower divisions, the last meeting at the Park was way back on New Year’s Day in 1991, City winning 3-0 that day. Crewe’s win earlier in the season gave them the edge in the league head to head, with 16 wins to City’s 15 (12 draws).
Referee: Gavin Ward
Assistant Referees: Robert Dabbs and Richard Hulme
Fourth Official Mark Russell
Gavin has refereed 12 Exeter games, going all the way back to Southport at the Park back in April 2007. Details of those 12 games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=gavin+ward