Preview: Exeter City vs Charlton Athletic
City returned to winning ways at struggling MK Dons last week, and with the transfer window now closed a host of new names are in contention for action – Messrs Woods, McDonald and Scott joining Mitchell, Aimson and Joe White, while Sam Stubbs has joined Matt Jay and Tim Dieng in dropping a level as he joined Bradford on deadline day hoping to make a return to regular play following his catalogue of knee injuries. Woods could be in line to start should Jamal Blackman not have recovered from the injury that ruled him out at MK, but the others may need to be content with a spot on the bench as Gary Caldwell looks to find a consistent winning formula.
Having started with plenty of optimism things haven’t quite worked out for Charlton this season, with Ben Garner paying the price and being replaced by Dean Holden. An improvement in league form in recent weeks came unstuck against Bolton last week, but there’s no doubt things have begun to look up under Holden after the Addicks had gone more than two months without a league victory. Holden, like Caldwell, was busy in January albeit mainly in the loan market, although he did sell former City favourite Jayden Stockley to Fleetwood. Macauley Bonne was the only permanent addition, while three further players arrived on loan. Goals have been hard to come by, with another loanee, Jesrun Rak-Sakyi, leading the way with seven league goals ahead of Miles “Son of Carl” Leaburn with six.
That said, goals weren’t an issue in the reverse of this fixture. Postponed originally due to the death of Her Majesty the Queen, it was a Tuesday night in early October when City made the trip on the back of the stunning win at Barnsley the previous Saturday. However, a slow start saw Charlton go two up through Leaburn and an Alex Hartridge Own Goal before a stunner from Jay Stansfield reduced the arrears just before half time. City pressed in the second half but were undone through late goals from Aneke and Payne put Charlton 4-1 up, a late consolation from the spot from Sam Nombe making it 4-2 right at the death. Charlton’s last visit to the Park was a 2-1 win in the EFL Cup in 2017/18, while the last league visit was in 2011/12, when promotion-bound Charlton won 1-0 at relegation threatened City through Sam Green. Charlton’s win in October extended their league head to head lead to 14-10, with five matches finishing level.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Declan Bourne
Assistant Referees: Andy Bennett and Daniel Flynn
Fourth Official : Jack Clench
Declan Bourne last refereeed an Exeter game in September when City drew 2-2 with Bristol Rovers.
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