After the euphoria of the late winner at Notts County, to call the defeat to Mansfield returning to earth with a bump might be understating things. A tepid performance, outclassed in every department, saw City slump to their heaviest defeat in Matt Taylor’s tenure to date. A lack of presence up front could have been a contributory factor, so the return of Ryan Bowman from suspension will be a boost. Otherwise Taylor might be tempted to go with the wingback system that has worked well on the road on a few occasions, which would utilise Kane Wilson’s abilities and allow Taylor to pick Troy Brown, so instrumental in the win at Notts County.
Tipped by many to struggle, Cheltenham’s first half of the season did little to dispel this, but a decent run of form, especially at home, has seen Gary Johnson’s side climb to mid-table safety. The Robins last tasted defeat at Whaddon Road back in early January and have compiled six wins and a draw on home turf since. Johnson invested shrewdly in the loan market, but it is the form of veteran Luke Varney, with four in his last four, that has been most eye-catching. One of the January loanees was Jordan Tillson, who will therefore sit out Saturday’s encounter but the utility defensive player has played a key role in Cheltenham’s second half form as he looks either to play his way back into Taylor’s plans or to secure a permanent move in the summer.
Once City’s ultimate bogey side, it’s now seemingly the other way round – Cheltenham won the first nine matches between the sides, but after that duck was finally broken with a draw in 2014, City have won the last seven, the last of which a come from behind win back in September. Cheltenham led at half time through Broom, but Sweeney, Stockley and Forte struck to give City a 3-1 win. Last season’s fixture at Whaddon Road was a humdinger, finishing 4-3 to City. Cheltenham raced into a 2-0 lead through a brace from Dawson. Moore-Taylor reduced the arrears with a free kick before City equalised just on half time through Reid. City took the lead in the second half from the spot through Reid, an incident which saw Grimes sent off for the hosts, Jake Taylor put the game seemingly beyond doubt before a nervy finish ensued through a 90th minute strike from Holman. Head to head stats between the two clubs can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9292
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Assistants: Kevin Morris and Marvyn Amphlett
Fourth Official: Mark Griffiths
Huxtable has refereed 10 Exeter games, details can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=brett+huxtable