An eye-catching win at another of the promotion favourites last week will have done wonders for City’s confidence as finally a tricky run of games appears to have come to an end with the visit of a side predicted to struggle and which has already dispensed with its manager. Taylor is looking like having closer to a full squad to choose from with summer signing Jonathan Forte expected to return to the fray after the injury picked up at MK Dons, while Matt Jay’s hat-trick for the reserves in midweek will see him pressing for a place at least on the bench.
With last season’s star striker Mo Eisa off to Bristol City, it was always likely to be a season of some struggle for Cheltenham, although Gary Johnson was able to add strength and experience in the likes of Ben Tozer, Johnny Mullins and released City striker Liam McAlinden. However, a poor start to the campaign saw Johnson depart. Russell Milton filled in as caretaker, overseeing the recent 3-1 win at Northampton, before Michael Duff was appointed, his first match in charge being last week’s 0-0 draw with Crewe. Eisa’s departure has clearly hit the Robins up front as nobody has scored more than once in the league – Conor Thomas with a goal in the Carabao Cup leads the way with two goals, while City fans hoping to see their former striker will probably be disappointed as McAlinden has not been seen since a cameo at Brentford in the Carabao Cup second round.
Back in the day this was a fixture City supporters would see on the calendar and shudder, as Cheltenham won the first nine fixtures between the sides. However, after the rot was stopped with a 1-1 draw in April 2014, City have since turned the tables with six successive victories either side of Cheltenham’s relegation and promotion back to the EFL. Last season’s match at the Park saw Cheltenham, minus manager Johnson who’d been taken ill and was in hospital, take the lead through Winchester only for Simpson and Storey to seal a 2-1 win. It was a rollercoaster at Whaddon Road – Cheltenham raced into a 2-0 lead through a brace from Kevin Dawson. Skipper Jordan Moore-Taylor pulled one back with a free kick before Reuben Reid equalised on half time. Reid scored again from the spot after a foul which saw Jamie Grimes shown a red card, Jake Taylor scored a minute later before Dan Holman ensured a nervy finish by pulling it back to 4-3 in stoppage time.
Those head to head numbers between the two clubs can be checked at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9292
The match officials for this game are:-
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Assistant Referees: Christopher Wade and Samuel Ogles
Fourth Official: John Flynn
Just the two games in charge of Exeter for Michael Salisbury, details of which can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=michael+salisbury