City were undone in front of the Sky cameras by an Ipswich side that on that evidence is likely to be returning to the second tier before long, and Gary Caldwell’s side will be looking to bounce back in the FA Cup on Saturday with the usual hope that a win brings a money-spinning tie in January. A new injury worry, naturally a defensive one, came in the shape of Josh Key limping off against Ipswich, but hopefully it won’t prove to be anything serious and Key will keep his place – albeit possibly back in his more familiar wing-back role as Jonathan Grounds and Cheick Diabate are now available. Elsewhere Rekeem Harper sat it out last week against his parent club so will likely return to the bench. With so much at stake and with fixture congestion no longer an issue, Caldwell is unlikely to call on his more fringe players.
After a slow start, Oxford have started to recover well and go into Saturday’s tie unbeaten in their last seven in all competitions, although four of those have been draws. Their first round tie at Woking was completed at the second attempt after the original date was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, the Us edged out their non-league opposition 2-1. Their latest fixture was a 1-1 draw against struggling Forest Green. Striker Matty Taylor has made an uncharacteristically slow start this season, scoring just twice, with Cameron Brannagan and Kyle Joseph leading the way with eight and six in all competitions respectively.
City will be after revenge after the 4-2 home league reverse during Kevin Nicholson’s caretaker spell – Oxford led 4-0 thanks to Brannagan, Long and two from Joseph before Jevani Brown reduced the arrears then, in stoppage time, Sonny Cox netted his first senior goal. The sides have never met in the FA Cup, although they have met three times in the EFL Trophy, most recently in 19/20 when Dino Visser was the penalty hero as City won the shoot-out 3-0 following a 0-0 draw. The sides have also met in the League Cup on one occasion, back in 1963/64 when City won 1-0.
The match officials for this tie will be:-
Referee: Will Finnie
Assistant Referee: Michael Webb and Andrew Laver
Fourth Official: Scott Tallis
The last time Will Finnie refereed an Exeter games was the 7-0 drubbing of Cheltenham in August.