A first home defeat means it’s now three games without a win for City ahead of a midweek trip to a team fighting it out at the other end of the table. More worryingly for Paul Tisdale, the soporific performance against Mansfield gives little reason for optimism right now, although the return of Troy Brown from injury was a welcome boost. Ryan Loft was given his debut, but the Spurs loanee was withdrawn at half time and may have to content himself with a place on the bench at Crewe. Tisdale will be aware he needs to find a winning formula soon if the season is not to tail off, and constant chopping and changing may not be the best way forward.
Having lost five and drawn one of their last six matches, Crewe’s 1-0 win over Colchester on Saturday will have been welcome relief for David Artell’s side as they look to stay clear of the relegation zone at a time when a couple of key players have picked up injuries that may keep them out for the rest of the season. That poor run saw the Railwaymen drop to 22nd before recovering to 20th on Saturday, but Artell will be only too aware that he needs to put together a run of form to assuage relegation fears. It’s entirely possible that off-field issues have played a part, notably the trial of former youth coach Barry Bennell, whose conviction last week may have lifted the gloom somewhat. Their main goal threat until a month or so ago came in the shape of the two Chris’, Porter and Dagnall, but with both picking up bad injuries within a week of each other they will be looking to the likes of Jordan Bowery to step up, although Bowery’s last goal was in November. Instead the loan signing of Shaun Miller from Carlisle has proved slightly more fruitful, indeed it was Miller’s goal that beat Colchester on Saturday.
The reverse fixture saw City cruise to a 3-0 win through Tillson, Taylor and Stockley. However, the corresponding fixture last season saw Crewe pile on the early season misery with a 2-0 win, the goals coming from Kiwomya and Hollands. City’s win at the Park in September ensured they took the lead in league head-to-heads with 17 wins to Crewe’s 16 (12 draws).
Match Officials for this game are:-
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistant Referees: Paul Hobday and Paul Thompson
Fourth Official: Thomas Harty
He’s refereed Exeter four times, the most recent time being the Coventry game in January. A list of his Exeter games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=ben+toner