City finally played an away match, albeit three days later than planned, on Tuesday night, although the 0-0 draw at Harrogate will not be one that lives long in the memory. That draw extended City’s poor recent run to one win in eight matches in all competitions. Of further concern is the fact that in 2021 the once-prolific City have scored just once, and that courtesy of an own goal. Matt Taylor will be hoping to get back on track with a positive result against a side in relegation danger, but Alex Revell’s Stevenage side has been in decent league form since their enforced break before Christmas due to Covid. Defender Sam Stubbs has finally completed his move to City after testing positive for Covid, although the Sweeney-Parkes partnership looked solid on Tuesday night. Elsewhere skipper Jake Taylor is out so Nigel Atangana is likely to continue in midfield, with any changes perhaps with one eye on a heavy forthcoming schedule.
Having avoided relegation back to non-league last season only by dint of the demise of Bury and Macclesfield, another season of struggle was predicted for Stevenage, and so it has proved so far with Boro languishing in 22nd place, but with up to three games in hand on the clubs around them and in decent form since Christmas. City’s trip to Hertfordshire the week before Christmas fell foul of a Covid outbreak amongst the Stevenage squad, which seems to have galvanised them into becoming a more solid unit, unbeaten in four in the league since their break. Like City they have drawn a large number of matches, including a 0-0 scoreline against Tranmere last Saturday. Alex Revell has been busy in the January transfer window, bringing in the likes of Luke Norris and Chris Lines, the former in particular looking to address the problem of scoring goals, their top scorers Charlie Carter and Aramide Oteh have just four apiece.
City are unbeaten against Stevenage under Matt Taylor, winning on all three occasions (including in the EFL Trophy) last season. The corresponding fixture finished 2-1, Williams and Jay sandwiching an equaliser from Kemp, while a late stunner from Nicky Law clinched the points at Broadhall Way. Those wins extended City’s league head to head lead, with 10 wins to Boro’s five, nine matches finishing all square. With both sides having recorded a number of draws this season, an X on the Pools coupon looks a good bet. Head to head information can be found at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9507
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Matt Donohue
Assistant Referees: Mark Pottage and Robert Merchant
Fourth Official : Andrew Fox
Matt Donohue has taken charge of two previous Exeter games, details at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=donohue