Preview: Exeter City vs Walsall

City’s recent upturn in form came crashing back down to earth on Saturday with a tepid display, not helped by a debateable red card and a soft penalty, in a 2-0 defeat at Crawley. With a change of formation and a number of personnel, gone was the energy from the win at Colchester, and Matt Taylor will hope his side rediscovers its verve against a side currently in transition following the shock departure of their manager. Taylor’s problems were compounded by Tom Parkes’ red card which owed as much to the Crawley players’ reaction as the challenge itself, and assuming no successful appeal Parkes will be spending the next three matches with his feet up, joining Ryan Bowman who still has two matches left to sit out. Taylor would be well advised to return to a back four, the wing back system yielding low returns in terms of chances created – this could mean a return for the likes of Willmott and Randall, while Rory McArdle made his first appearance off the bench since his injury at Stevenage.

Walsall have tended to be the draw specialists in the division this season, but go into Tuesday night’s match starting to glance tentatively over their shoulder, albeit with a comfortable gap to the bottom. They were rocked by the decision of manager Darrell Clarke to up sticks and move sideways to Port Vale, as well the deadline day sale of the effervescent Elijah Adebayo to Luton. Ironically the Saddlers’ only win of 2021 was at Port Vale, the club Clarke subsequently joined. His assistant, Brian Dutton, has taken temporary charge and has managed one point in his first three games. With Adebayo gone, more pressure is heaped on Caolan Lavery, whose return of six goals needs to be improved on.

Both teams were scoring and conceding plenty when they met at the Bescot in October, so naturally the match finished 0-0. It was an altogether different story when Walsall last visited the Park just before Christmas in 2019, gifting their visitors a 3-0 lead (Sweeney OG, Lavery, Gordon) before a Bowman brace and Lee Martin sealed a remarkable comeback to draw 3-3. Walsall have the edge in league head to heads with 32 wins to City’s 25, 12 matches finishing level. Details of the last 19 match can be read at

The match officials for this game will be:-

Referee: John Busby
Assistant Referees: Ravel Cheosiaua and Richard Morris
Fourth Official : Scott Jackson

John Busby has taken charge of four Exeter games

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