Depending on your frame of mind, City have suffered one defeat in 15 matches or have failed to win their last three. Both are true, of course, but City have cause to remain optimistic going into Saturday’s home fixture against one of the more basket case clubs (in a season where there appear to be several of them). Christy Pym missed the draw with Stevenage but is set to be fit to return, while Jake Taylor is likely to return to the fold after sitting out last weekend following his indiscretion against Notts County. Ryan Swan flew in from Ireland to put pen to paper on a short-term contract and he will be aiming for a place on the bench to begin to show City what he can do.
In 2011 Blackpool were in dreamland, playing against the cream of English Football in the Premier League and, while ultimately falling short of staying up, earned major plaudits for their attitude and style of play. Fast forward six years and Blackpool, beset by off-field problems that have left the Seasiders with a total breakdown between ownership and support leading to boycotts of home fixtures, are 14th in the basement. Gary Bowyer has a squad capable of challenging at the top of the table, with additions in January such as Neil Danns and the returning Nathan Delfouneso, but wins have been hard to come by. Draws? No problem. Of their last 13 fixtures in all competitions, nine have been level after 90 minutes (Blackpool then won 2-1 in Extra Time at Barnsley in the FA Cup). Their only regulation time win in 2017 was a stunning 4-1 thrashing of Carlisle at Brunton Park, so it is clear Bowyer’s side is more than capable of mixing it.
City were full of optimism after a stunning pre-season when they headed to a deserted Bloomfield Road on the opening day of the season, but in a sign of things to come over the next three months or so City were powerless to prevent Blackpool running out 2-0 winners with goals from Vassell and a Troy Brown OG. You have to go back to March 2001 for the last time Blackpool made the long trip to the Park, as relegation-threatened City upset promotion-bound Blackpool by winning 2-0 with goals from Gary Birch and Steve Flack. Blackpool have the league head to head lead with seven wins to City’s four (four draws).
The referee for this game is:-
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Assistant Referees: Simon Knapp and Andrew Quin
Fourth Official Brett Huxtable
Kevin Johnson has refereed five Exeter games, the most recent being the home 2-0 win over Mansfield in December. Details of those five game cane be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=%22Referee%3A+Kevin+Johnson%22