Next Up: Exeter City vs Morecambe

After a hectic but ultimately fruitful festive period that yielded four wins from five matches (and the defeat a match in which City were largely denied by a fantastic defensive rearguard from Grimsby), City enjoyed a mini break with no fixture last weekend while Lincoln were in FA Cup action. City return to action on Saturday against a side that continues to struggle on and off the pitch for the first match since Jayden Stockley’s move to Preston. Stockley missed the win at Swindon due to his impending move, but City’s recent recovery continued unabated with his replacement, Jonathan Forte, scoring from the spot. City moved quickly to cover the gap left by Stockley’s departure, bringing in Ryan Bowman from Motherwell in what will be seen as a like-for-like replacement. Bowman is expected to go straight into the starting XI probably alongside Forte, while another gap is in the shape of Chiedozie Ogbene, who returned to Brentford (and came on as a sub in their FA Cup match last weekend) after his loan spell ended. Lee Holmes missed the Grimsby and Swindon matches but will hope to be fit to slot back in, but there was worse news in the shape of Hiram Boateng, whose hip injury returned and he faces another spell on the sidelines.

One of the great mysteries in life is how Morecambe manage to survive in the Football League every season. With crowds barely pushing into four figures and ownership struggles off the pitch, they’re installed as perennial favourites for the drop only to survive. This season their off-field troubles were thought to be over only for details to emerge before Christmas of players not being paid. And yet, while looking over their shoulder they go into Saturday’s match fully six points clear of the drop. Their fortunes are often pinned down to one man – Jim Bentley – who, since Paul Tisdale left City is now by far the longest serving manager in the EFL. Season after season Bentley has picked up the scraps and moulded them into a competitive outfit, helped by a couple of trusty lieutenants in Barry Roche and the colourful Kevin Ellison who, a month shy of his 40th birthday, is still a mainstay of the Morecambe line up. After a shocking start to the season with one win and seven defeats (including a 6-0 reverse at Crewe on the opening day), form picked up but has tailed off somewhat of late – since a shock 1-0 win over Forest Green in November the Shrimps have won just once since.

It was during that wretched early run that City travelled up to the Globe Arena and came away with a comfortable 2-0 win through goals from Sweeney (pen) and Stockley. City will hope for a similar scoreline at the Park to that last season where City won 4-1 – Brown and Stockley put City 2-0 up, Oliver pulled one back only for Stockley to notch his second before half time. On 48 minutes Moxey scored the fourth but that was where the scoring ended. City have a healthy league head to head lead with ten wins to Morecambe’s four (four draws), with Morecambe’s only win at the Park a 3-0 opening day drubbing in City’s first match back in League Two after relegation in 2012. Details of our 24 encounters can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9082

Match officials for the game are:-

Referee: Brett Huxtable
Assistant Referees: Andrew Laver and Kevin Morris
Fourth Official : Marc Whaley

He’s take  charge of eight competitive Exeter games, the most recent being the disappointing defat to Macclesfield. Full detail of all those game cane be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=brett+huxtable



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