Newport’s midweek win over Oldham means City go into the final fixture of the regular season in the worst possible position of 8th, knowing that even a win on Saturday may not be enough to secure a third successive extension to the season. The major selection concern is over multiple player of the year award winner Nicky Law, who picked up a dead leg in last week’s tense 1-0 win over Oldham and faces a race against time to be fit. Otherwise Matt Taylor has pretty much his entire squad to choose from. Should Law not make it Hiram Boateng will likely deputise, while there are discussions to be had over the formation and line-up elsewhere – for example will Taylor decide to play an expansive game involving both Lee Holmes and the in-form Randell Williams.
After a tricky first season in the EFL that saw the eco-friendly club narrowly avoid relegation straight back to non-league, big-spending Forest Green have challenged at the right end of the table this season and go into Saturday’s fixture knowing their playoff berth is guaranteed. With the fixture a dead rubber it might be that Mark Cooper rests a few of his key players, although Cooper is always keen to get one over on his former employers so would relish the thought of ending City’s season. The shenanigans at Bolton this season hit Forest Green in the pocket as they were due a seven-figure fee for Christian Doidge, but the collapse of that transfer boosted their fortunes on the pitch as Doidge returned to Gloucestershire and his 14 goal return in 24 starts has shown why he spent half a season in the Championship. Should Cooper rotate his squad it could mean recalls for former City pair Reuben Reid and Lloyd James, who have found themselves on the periphery of late.
City were embarking on a poor run when Forest Green visited the Park in October and, minus keeper Christy Pym, put in a tepid display in losing 2-1. The result was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested with goals from Brown and Shepherd, a goalkeeping howler from Sanchez in stoppage time enabling Aaron Martin the chance to compare himself to David Beckham in scoring from his own half. The league fixture at the New Lawn last season saw City race into a 3-0 lead through Sweeney and a brace from Reid before Mullings reduced the arrears late on. City have a healthy league head to head lead with six wins to Forest Green’s, two, five matches finishing level. Details of all our encounters can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9840
Match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistant Referees: Anthony Da Costa and Matthew Lee
Fourth Official : Gary Parsons
Ben Toner has taken charge of eight Exeter games, details can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=ben+toner