City’s season continues to get on track after a hard-fought 2-0 win against a spirited Sutton United last week, so Matt Taylor’s side will be in buoyant mood ahead of the long trip to face the other side promoted from the National League. For the first time one of City’s out and out strikers got on the scoresheet against Sutton, with Sam Nombe getting off the mark even if his first goal was credited as an own goal. Archie Collins is expected to make the trip to the north east after coming through the U23 Cup defeat to Wolves unscathed, although this presents Taylor with a selection headache as he now has his full complement of central midfielders to call upon, and the introduction of Collins would be harsh on Harry Kite, who has performed well in Collins’ absence.
After a few years in the non-league doldrums, the appointment of Dave Challinor as manager galvanised Hartlepool’s fortunes, and they made a welcome return to the league last season after a dramatic playoff final victory over Torquay. After losing the talismanic Rhys Oates and striker Luke Armstrong in the summer, Pools were tipped to struggle, but some shrewd signings and exceptional home form have seen Challinor’s side go into Saturday’s match one place below City in 6th. Like City their goals have tended to come from deeper, with Tyler Burey their top scorer with three but he hasn’t featured since the 1-0 defeat at Tranmere in early September. Others to look out for will be Nicky Featherstone and new signing Mike Fondop.
Although Hartlepool were in non-league since 2017, the sides did meet in the FA Cup in the 19/20 2nd round, and it was something of a “giantkilling” as Hartlepool recovered from 2-0 down at the Park to force a replay, which they won 1-0. Although Pools were relegated in 2017 while City reached the playoff final, this was not reflected in the matches between the sides. City were in disarray when Hartlepool visited back in August 2016, the visitors coming from behind to win 2-1 – McAlinden gave City the lead in the first half before Woods and Paynter sealed the win. City again led 1-0 at half time at Victoria Park through Ollie Watkins before a double from Alessandra and a strike from now City player Padraig Amond secured a 3-1 win. Those results closed the gap in league head to heads, City leading 34-26 with 22 draws. Details of the last 41 encounters can be found at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=10394
The match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Leigh Doughty
Assistant Referees: Geoffrey Liddle and Shaun Hudson
Fourth Official : Natalie Aspinall
Leigh Doughty had taken charge of two Exeter games, see https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=leigh+doughty