The hectic schedule just got more hectic thanks to the frenetic draw at Forest Green last week, but before the replay to potentially set up a visit from the Premier League’s West Brom, there is the small matter of a trip across country on Saturday as City look to arrest their recent poor form on the road. Recent re-signing Dan Seaborne enjoyed a cameo in Monday night’s U23 Cup thrashing of Brighton but it’s unlikely he’ll be ready to make his full return yet as he builds up his match fitness. Troy Archibald-Henville is therefore likely to start unless Paul Tisdale reverts to a back four which may see Pierce Sweeney alongside Jordan Moore-Taylor with Kane Wilson operating on the right. Elsewhere Ryan Harley and Jordan Tillson are back from their injuries – the former played a key role in the draw at Forest Green and may get a start.
In pre-season Colchester were a difficult side to pin down in terms of their chances having finished a short distance outside the playoffs last season, and so far the signs are of more of the same for John McGreal’s side, who are currently 11th but on the fringe of the jagged line marking out 7th place. Results have been up and down, defeat to high-flying Notts County in their last match a fortnight ago brought to an end an unbeaten six match run in the league, although in the meantime they did also suffer the indignity of losing 1-0 at home to minnows Oxford City in the FA Cup. The goals have been shared around somewhat, but joint top league scorers (six each) are Mikael Mandron and Sammie Szmodics. Kyel Reid is another player to watch having plenty of experience at a higher level with the likes of Bradford.
Last season saw City take all six points from this fixture. The corresponding game in Essex back in September saw then struggling City spring a surprise in ending Colchester’s unbeaten run with a stunning 3-2 win. Robbie Simpson with what is still his only goal for the club put City ahead, only for Colchester to lead 2-1 at the break through Szmodics and Kurtis Guthrie. Ollie Watkins equalised before Joel Grant’s winner. It was an altogether simpler victory for City at the Park during their stunning run, as Watkins turned provider with three superb assists for Reid, Wheeler and McAlinden in a 3-0 win. City have a slight league head to head lead with 27 wins to Colchester’s 24 (19 draws).
The match officials for this game are:-
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistant Referee: Stephen Finch and Callum Walchester
Fourth Official: Rob Smith
Drysdale had refereed seven Exeter games, the most recent being the 1-1 draw away to Swindon in August. Details of those seven games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=drysdale