Preview: Exeter City vs Stevenage

City and the rest of the pack. Given the travails of the Oldham match which saw Tim Dieng and Kyle Taylor go off injured and Nigel Atangana buy himself a couple of weeks off with a silly red card, to emerge with a draw against another in-form side with a debutant in midfield was definitely to City’s credit. Matt Taylor has hinted that one of his injured players (presumably Dieng) should be fit for Saturday which would mean Callum Rowe drops to the bench after his encouraging d├ębut. Elsewhere Pierce Sweeney missed Tuesday night’s match through illness so he’ll face a race against time to be fit, although the performance of City’s defensive trio may mean Taylor decides to leave Sweeney on the bench. For Cheick Diabate this promises to be something of a revenge mission, as he was once on the books of the Hertfordshire side before heading to Devon (and the rest is history).

Until a week or so ago Saturday’s fixture was due to mark a return to the Park for one of City’s longest serving managers. However, after an initial bounce Stevenage’s results had tailed off alarmingly and, with their previous first choice now available, culminated in Paul Tisdale’s dismissal accompanied by a rather terse statement from the Chairman. Instead the dugout will be graced (or is that disgraced?) by the presence of one of Football’s more colourful managers. Steve Evans, once banned from the game for his antics at Boston United leading to a conviction for fraud, has found himself back in the basement following his departure from Gillingham. His first match was due to be last weekend but a combination of injuries and Covid led to Boro having to pull out of the fixture, meaning his debut with Boro will be at the Park on Saturday. Had City lost at Oldham last week (or had Oldham won their game in hand against Sutton on Tuesday), Evans would have brought a side in the relegation zone – as it is they remain one place and three points above the dotted line. Having seemingly pulled towards safety, a run of three points from their last nine games has dragged them right back into it. Tisdale had been given ammunition in the January window, bringing in his former keeper Christy Pym on loan from Peterborough, while others with pedigree to join included Ed Upson and Michael Bostwick. Goals have been an issue – Elliott List is top scorer with 12 in all competitions but he hasn’t scored since November, while Luke Norris is the other player in double figures with ten. As well as Pym there are likely to be two further ex-City players featuring – Jake Taylor left in the summer to be closer to home, while Jamie Reid was signed from Mansfield.

The return at Broadhall Way finished 2-2 – City led twice through Nombe and Jay but List pegged them back both times. Last season’s match at the Park saw City run out 3-1 winners – they led 2-0 through Collins and Jay, List pulled one back before Bowman sealed the points. City are unbeaten in eight contests (including one in the EFL Trophy) dating back to a particularly unhappy visit to Stevenage late in 17/18 when the hosts won 3-1. As a result City have a healthy league head to head lead, 12-5, with ten matches finishing level.

The match officials for this game are:-

Referee: Carl Boyeson
Assistant Referees: Christopher Wade and Justin Amey
Fourth Official : Adam Ricketts

We’ve not see Carl Boyeson for a while, last game was Notts County in March 2019. See https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=boyeson



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