Preview: Exeter City vs Southend United

Cambridge supporters will be all the more nonplussed about last week’s thrashing by City, given the return to recent tepid performances at Barrow on Tuesday night in suffering a 2-1 defeat to the relegation battlers. While there were more grounds for optimism than other recent displays against the likes of Oldham and Mansfield, it must be very worrying for Matt Taylor that not only did his side once again fail to land a blow on a lower side, but that he doesn’t appear to have the weapons at his disposal to make wholesale changes and it’s the same small group to choose from. With Nicky Ajose MIA, this means Taylor goes into another match against a relegation-threatened side with his choices limited. Alex Hartridge was on the bench at Barrow to at least give another defensive option, but the continued absence of Robbie Willmott is another concern especially with Randell Williams not yet able to play a full 90 minutes.

Given the off-field turmoil at the club, Southend were hotly tipped to go straight through the basement, and with five games to go in the season, the Shrimpers are staring down the barrel, four points behind free-falling Colchester. Former City winger Mark Molesley paid the price last week, with former favourite Phil Brown returning to try to pull off a great escape. Southend have shown battling qualities in having lost just three of their last 14 matches, but the issue is firstly that they’ve only won two of those games, and secondly that following a 3-1 win at Forest Green in the first match of this recent run, they have scored just three goals in the last 13, with five matches finishing 0-0. Brown will know that their match on Tuesday night at Colchester could be seismic, which presents a quandary in terms of whether he tries to get some momentum going or he looks ahead to putting out his strongest available side on Tuesday and therefore rests key players. The scoring malaise in Essex is stark when you consider their leading league scorers, Thimothee Dieng and defender Tom Clifford, each have just three goals. 42 players have been used in total, a lack of continuity that exposes Southend’s floundering this season.

City were expected to cruise to victory at Roots Hall back in October, but as has so often been the case against the bottom sides this season, City looked out of sorts before rescuing an undeserved draw late on. Goodship gave the hosts the lead which was cancelled out before half time by Joel Randall. A penalty from Jason Demetriou restored the lead before Alex Fisher unleashed a wondergoal from distance some time on Sunday morning to clinch a point. The last time Southend made the long trip to Exeter they were on their way to promotion and won 1-0 through a 90th minute goal from Michael Timlin. This fixture is the most-played league fixture in City’s history and sees Southend lead 43-40, with 36 draws. You read details of 21 of those games at

Match officials for the game will be:-

Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistant Referees: Christopher Husband and Daniel Flynn
Fourth Official: Brett Huxtable

Darren Drysdale has now taken charge of 10 Exeter games, information at

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