It may have been a long time coming, but Ollie Watkins’ stunning goal to give City a point against Portsmouth will have done wonders to help rebuild the confidence that was shattered recently as Paul Tisdale’s side heads to a ground that has provided many fond memories in recent years. Watkins was one of the standout performers on Tuesday night and, having endured something of a stop-start campaign will hope to have done enough to earn consecutive starts. David Noble’s rehabilitation continued with a stint off the bench presumably with the aim of keeping him fresh for a start on Saturday, while Ryan Harley missed out altogether as he struggles to recapture the form he was starting to show before his own injury layoff.
Tipped to do well in pre-season following a spending spree that forced the club’s chairman to issue a statement denying they were splashing the cash from their FA Cup exploits the previous season, inconsistency has become something of a byword and, having replaced Richard Money with Shaun Derry, Cambridge go into the latter part of the season with the playoffs still very much in range, currently five points and two places ahead of City in 12th. It is clear the quality is there, as evidenced by a 1-0 win over a typically obdurate Wycombe on Tuesday night, but the current sequence of LWLW speaks volumes, and with a tough run coming up against in-form sides, victory on Saturday will be seen as of paramount importance. One of Money’s big, er, money signings in the summer was Barry Corr, who endured a somewhat torrid spell in City colours where he displayed plenty of fight, sadly literally in getting himself sent off three times for letting his temper get the better of him. Corr, however, will not be lining up against City due to a season-ending injury. Corr with 12 goals is still the club’s leading scorer, instead the main threat will come from Luke Berry who has 10. There is likely to be one ex-City player on display, with James Dunne having moved on loan from Portsmouth – Dunne has already tasted victory over City when he was loaned to Dagenham & Redbridge.
The Abbey Stadium was for a long time a bogey ground for City with a winless run stretching back to 1976 until Paul Tisdale’s first match at the ground in 2006 – the first of three straight wins there. Last season City had yet to record a victory when they made a midweek visit to Cambridge. The signs weren’t good when Ryan Bird put the hosts in front, but goals from Cummins and Nicholls sealed a stunning comeback win. The reverse fixture this season ended with that rarest of things, a home win as an early Tom Nichols goal proved enough. Cambridge still maintain a healthy league head to head lead with 21 wins to City’s 15 (11 draws).
Referee: Frederick Graham
Assistant Referees: Alix Pashley and Ian Smedley
Fourth Official Mark Howes
Fred has taken charge of five Exeter games since we returned to the Football League – http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=fred+graham
Details of last seasons game http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?sp_event=4172