That City are still in the playoff picture after Saturday’s woeful showing at Port Vale which made it four defeats and an arguably undeserved win in their last five is probably testament to Newport also going into freefall, but with teams like Leyton Orient somehow (after their own dreadful display at the Park recently) coming into contention, Matt Taylor will be under no illusions that things need to change, and fast, if City are to clinch a fourth playoff place in five seasons. The threadbare nature of City’s squad has been exposed of late, such as the failure to replace Nicky Law and injuries to the likes of Randell Williams and Joel Randall meaning Taylor’s ability to change things has been hampered. To this end surely the recent improvement in weather conditions must have meant Nicky Ajose could be dug up and utilised, while the likes of Harry Kite may be a useful option rather than a clearly unfit Jake Taylor off the bench. Alex Hartridge limped off at half time at Vale Park and will miss the Mansfield match, meaning Tom Parkes is likely to deputise while Pierce Sweeney may also start should Taylor revert to a back three. Williams has gained some minutes off the bench but Taylor confirmed he is not yet ready to start matches.
Perpetual underachievers Mansfield have flattered to deceive once more, and go into Easter Monday still not completely out of the woods, although a nine point gap to the relegation zone at this stage looks safe enough. Nigel Clough was brought in to steady the ship and initially he enjoyed some success, but the Stags are instead competing with Walsall for the tag of draw specialists, 17 of their matches finishing all square including four successive matches before their 2-0 home defeat against resurgent Leyton Orient on Friday. Clough’s side have won just two of their last 15 matches, but they were against Cheltenham and Morecambe, which suggests they are capable of upsetting the odds. Jordan Bowery is their main goal threat with 10, while City interest will be in seeing Jamie Reid – the Northern Irish striker who started at City but became a scoring machine in non-league at Torquay has scored six goals in all competitions. George Maris in midfield is someone who has often impressed against City when in Cambridge colours.
City won the reverse fixture at Field Mill 2-1 back in September – the hosts took the lead through Menayesse, but an own goal from Rawson levelled things before the break before Josh Key scored the winner in the second half. City won what turned out to be the only meeting between the sides last term 1-0 through Ryan Bowman. Those wins extended City’s league head to head lead to 26-22, 18 matches finishing level. The last 32 results between the two clubs can be found at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9794
Referee: Carl Brook
Assistant Referees: Steven Plane and Simon Shaw
Fourth Official : Justin Amey
Just the one game in charge of an Exeter game, the defeat in the Trophy game against Northampton. https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?sp_event=exeter-city-vs-northampton-town-7