For the third time this season, TV coverage (this time in the form of BBC’s Final Score programme) has shifted a City fixture to a Sunday, as Paul Tisdale looks to do something that he hasn’t managed to achieve during his career at City by leading the Grecians to the third round of the FA Cup and a potential tie against one of the giants of the English game. City’s midfield woes continue as Tom McCready joined the injured ranks on Wednesday night by limping out of the U21 Cup defeat to West Ham, while David Noble was withdrawn at half time against Bristol Rovers last week. With Christian Ribeiro out until the new year following an operation Tisdale’s resources are being stretched to the limit which could necessitate a change of formation.
Standing in the way of a potential money-spinning tie are Port Vale. Robert Page’s side is currently sitting in mid-table in League One, having had a spell of four straight wins ended at Rochdale last week. They overcame stubborn resistance in a televised replay against Maidenhead to set up the trip to Devon. The Valiants will be without Chris Dickinson, who was sent off at Rochdale, but one familiar face will expect to be in the visitors’ line-up – Richard Duffy, who has become something of a permanent fixture in the heart of their defence. City will need to negate the threat of AJ Leitch-Smith who, after a slow start, has been on fire in recent weeks and heads the scoring charts with five.
The last time the sides met was during the 2012/13 season, with both matches ending up 2-0 to the visitors. Port Vale, on their way to promotion, won 2-0 at City thanks to a brace from Tom Pope, while goals from Jamie Cureton and Danny Coles gave City a surprise victory at Vale Park. The Football League head to head shows Vale ahead with 19 wins to City’s 15 (10 draws), while slightly older City supporters will hope for revenge for the 1992/93 Autoglass Trophy area final, where a Bernie Slaven goal minutes from time denied City a first trip to Wembley.