After the perhaps welcome distraction of the FA Cup last weekend it’s back to the grindstone on Saturday with City attempting to get their league season back on track following a fairly poor October. The decibel level amongst the fans and press around the front line has raised considerably given Reuben Reid’s recent form in front of goal – after a blistering start to the season he hasn’t found the back of the net since his equaliser at Barnet two months ago. Liam McAlinden was considered very unlucky to have made way for record signing Jayden Stockley, and the clamour is for Reid to make way for the time being to give McAlinden the starting berth. Elsewhere it’s largely as you were, with some of City’s injured players like Jordan Tillson said to be edging closer to a return, which may be necessary given Lloyd James is suspended having picked up five bookings.
Grimsby returned in the summer to a tried and tested managerial formula with Russell Slade returning to the side he managed successfully in the mid-2000s. The Mariners endured a poor start to the season, their biggest problem being keeping a full side on the pitch as they had a red card in each of their first five matches, but they’ve cleaned up their act and haven’t had another red card. With their ability to keep eleven men on the pitch has come an upturn in form although they are seemingly draw specialists of late with three of their last four league fixtures ending 0-0. Scoring goals does appear to be an issue, their penalty last night (Wednesday) in the EFL Trophy match against Sunderland U21s (in front of an attendance of 248) the first they’d scored in four matches since they scored three before half time in a 3-2 win at Cheltenham a month ago. Sam Jones has proved the biggest goal threat with five goals so far this season but they do have potential with the likes of Jamille Matt and Scott Vernon.
With Grimsby finally having returned to the Football League where a club of their stature belongs, last season was the first where the sides had met since City’s promotion season in 08/09. The corresponding fixture in mid-October saw City finally earn their first home point of the season following a very forgettable 0-0 draw. The return in January, however, was during City’s golden run from bottom to top and saw the visitors run out convincing 3-0 victors through goals from Reid, Wheeler and a fine solo effort from Ollie Watkins. Grimsby hold a slight league head to head lead with 11 wins to City’s eight (seven draws).
The match officials for the game will be:-
Referee Dean Whitestone
Assistant Referees: Steven Plane and Simon Shaw
Fourth Official: Mark Derrien
Dean has taken charge of 12 Exeter games, the most recent being the play off semi-final at SJP at the end of May. All those games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=whitestone