It’s pretty safe to say this was the first fixture most City fans looked out for back in June. Following weeks of speculation during City’s ultimately unsuccessful playoff campaign, Paul Tisdale finally upped sticks and left City after 12 years to take up the reins at MK Dons. As is often the case when a manager changes jobs, Tisdale launched a raid on his former employer, taking with him coaches Matt Oakley and Mel Gwinnett, the retiring Director of Football Steve Perryman (as an Associate Director) and then his captain, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Ryan Harley and perhaps most surprisingly Robbie Simpson, released by City after two seasons.
As a result of this, there is definitely an extra edge to Saturday’s fixture, especially as both clubs have made unbeaten starts to the season. However, while City took over sole lead in the division on goal difference thanks to a professional 2-0 win at Cambridge on Tuesday night, MK Dons were only able to draw 1-1 with 10-man Grimsby – that goal coming from Simpson with his first for the club. City were hit on Tuesday by the late withdrawal of Troy Brown, which necessitated Dean Moxey moving across to take his place while veteran Craig Woodman came into the side. Should Brown fail to recover, Matt Taylor is likely to continue with the same back line, while he may freshen things further up with the likes of Lee Holmes and Jordan Tillson hoping for a start.
In addition to the trio of signings from City, Tisdale was busy elsewhere in the transfer market, bringing in 10 players altogether – one a former City loanee in Lawson D’Ath, while others included Baily Cargill from Bournemouth and Mathieu Baudry from Doncaster, who will miss Saturday’s match through suspension from a red card picked up last Saturday. Ryan Harley has missed the last couple of games but will be itching to face his former club. Goals have been an issue so far, with just four scored in the four league games, and Kieran Agard is likely to be the biggest goal threat.
The sides last met during City’s 11/12 League One relegation season, and in keeping with City’s form that season MK Dons ran out comfortable winners in both fixtures – 3-0 at home and 2-0 at the Park. Jabo Ibehre, whom City faced on Tuesday night at Cambridge, was on the scoresheet in both matches that season. City’s record against MK is poor, with two draws and four defeats in league matches, plus two cup defeats. Details of those games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9744
Match day officials:-
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistant Referee: Thomas Harty and Paul Lister
Fourth Official: Ian Smedley
Breakspear has refereed 11 Exeter games, going back to 2013. Details of those games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=breakspear