The City bandwagon keeps rolling, the 100% record in all competitions in 2020 maintained with a gritty 1-0 win at Grimsby in the league following a 3-0 defenestration of lowly Stevenage in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night. Such is the strength in depth at Matt Taylor’s disposal he was able to make seven changes to Stevenage’s none and still win comfortably, so several key players were able to put their feet up ahead of another tough examination on Saturday. Tuesday night also saw the long-awaited return to the fray of Lee Holmes and Joel Randall, who has impressed in recent cameos. Nicky Ajose pressed his claims for inclusion with a goal and a fine assist on Tuesday. One name still definitely missing is Nigel Atangana, who sits out the last of his three match suspension.
Expected to challenge for promotion, Colchester have gradually forced their way into the reckoning (perhaps after their EFL Cup exploits came to an end), with John McGreal’s side currently occupying a playoff berth in what is a titanic struggle below City and Swindon at the top. Difficult to beat (their five defeats this season only bettered by City’s four), turning draws into wins seems to be what has kept the Essex side in the playoff hunt rather than sitting atop with City – 12 matches have finished level including five of their last six. A lack of a regular goal scorer could pinpoint the issue, with two players (Norris and Robinson) on six league goals apiece and Nouble on five. In the reverse fixture one key player for the Us was Callum Harriott, he will need to be watched closely, while their aerial prowess is also a threat including beanpole midfielder Harry Pell.
Those who made the long trek just after Christmas were rewarded with an excellent 2-2 draw and both sides taking plaudits from opposing fans. City took the lead through Jake Taylor only for Pell to equalise. Colchester went ahead after the break through Robinson, only for City to be awarded a penalty (for which Tom Lapslie saw red) which Bowman converted. The corresponding fixture last season was a breeze for City, with goals from Jay, Holmes and Law in a 3-0 win. That win extended City’s league head to head lead to 29-25, 21 matches finishing level.
Match officials for the game are:
Referee: Darren Handley
Assistant Referees: David Plowright and Richard Morris
Fourth Official : Ross Martin
Darren Handley has refereed three Exeter games, details at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=darren+handley