City finally tasted defeat in a month that looked very tricky on paper against Bury last week, and Matt Taylor will hope to rally his troops ahead of the first of two trips in the next few days to face a side coming into form at the right time. After the bout of “Manflu” that ripped through the squad two notable absentees against Bury were Jonathan Forte and Lee Martin, both of whom will be hoping to be back to feature against Crewe. Ryan Bowman started last week and will hope to continue up front as he looks to open his account for City, while Hiram Boateng’s absence continues albeit with hopes of returning soon.
After a season of struggle, Crewe were expected to trouble the foot of the table rather than the top this season and, despite a 6-0 win on the opening day against Morecambe, there was little sign of the pundits being wrong. However, after a defeat on New Year’s Day David Artell’s side has embarked on a 7-match unbeaten run including wins over the likes of MK Dons, Colchester and Carlisle. One noticeable aspect of their recent form is their ability to score late goals – six have been scored in the last five minutes of games during that run. Goals have generally been an issue but three players stand out – Chris Porter (10 in all competitions), Jordan Bowery (eight) and Charlie Kirk (seven). Former City forward Alex Nicholls will hope to be involved but he was in their U23 side last Saturday while the first team were earning a late point at Oldham.
City and Crewe, often by dint of swapping divisions, didn’t play each other for 25 years until the 16/17 season, but after Crewe won the first encounter after that hiatus City have recorded four straight wins, including a 1-0 victory through a Lee Martin thunderbolt in December at the Park. With late goals a feature of this preview so far that segues nicely into the last meeting at Gresty Road last season. When Shaun Miller scored after 88 minutes Crewe must have thought they’d snatched the points, only for injury time goals from Stockley and Moore-Taylor to turn things around completely. That win extended City’s league head to head lead over Crewe to 19 wins, 16 for Crewe and 12 draws. Details of the last five encounters can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9922
The match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Assistant Referees: Craig Taylor and Marvyn Amphlett
Fourth Official : Alan Clayton
Dean Whitestone has refereed 15 Exeter games, details at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=dean+whitestone