Preview: Stevenage vs Exeter City

City’s wretched start to 2021 continued with defeat at Carlisle – it wasn’t necessarily losing away to a side that’s almost invincible at home and but for postponements would probably be clear at the top of the table, it’s that for the second successive match City dominated possession yet barely registered a shot on goal, let alone a shot on target. The injuries to Randell Williams and Jake Randall seem to have taken any attacking impetus away, as well as leading to a complete lack of end product from crosses and attacking moves. City’s problems have been made worse by the decision of the talisman Nicky Law to take up a player-coach position in the US – while nobody begrudges him this decision and he goes with the best wishes of the supporters, should Matt Taylor fail to sign reinforcements ahead of the transfer window slamming shut later today (Monday), this would leave a gaping hole in City’s creative output. Taylor is expected to be busy on Monday, otherwise a search party will need to be instigated to find Nicky Ajose. Ajose should be the answer to City’s attacking woes, but Taylor has suggested his attitude in training is preventing him from being available for selection – supporters are, however, only interested in what happens on the pitch, and Ajose’s absence even from the bench has been mystifying.

Stevenage will hope to gain revenge for the 3-1 defeat they suffered in Devon just over a week ago in this rearranged fixture. Since then Boro have picked up four points from two matches, firstly a 0-0 draw with Colchester then a 2-1 away win (their first since January 2020) at fellow strugglers Grimsby, in a match that saw Grimsby equalise and Boro snatch the win in injury time. Loanee Matt Stevens, who scored a brace for parent club Forest Green against City in the EFL Trophy earlier in the season, opened his Stevenage account with the winner, the other goal coming from Elliott List, who scored their goal against City the other week.

City will be hoping for a similar result to that at Broadhall Way last season, where a late Nicky Law strike sealed the points. The 3-1 win just over a week ago meant it is now five wins and a draw for City from the last six matches in all competitions between the sides dating back to the 3-1 defeat in 17/18 which effectively ensured City missed out on automatic promotion. City’s league head to head lead is now 11-5, with nine matches finishing level. Head to head information can be seen at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9507

Match officials for this game will be:-

Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistant Referees: Joseph Stokes and Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official : Christopher Pollard

Graham Salisbury has refereed 13 Exeter games, details at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=graham+salisbury



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