Preview: Exeter City vs Plymouth Argyle

Another poor first half and defensive calamities at Peterborough saw City go down to successive Easter weekend defeats against promotion contenders, and Gary Caldwell’s side will hope to make amends in the best possible way by putting a dent in their biggest rivals’ promotion hopes. It’s likely Caldwell will have to shuffle the pack once more as Kevin McDonald limped off in the first half on Monday – this may open the door to Rekeem Harper, whose effervescent display off the bench suggested he had a point to prove after being overlooked in favour of the likes of Pedro Borges against Bolton, netting for the first time in what has been an ultimately disappointing loan spell. Harper in particular could be a good option as he seeks to aid his parent club’s own promotion chances by beating one of their main competitors. Elsewhere Demetri Mitchell shook off his own knock to come off the bench at Peterborough, while up front Sonny Cox and James Scott will compete for the start alongside Sam Nombe as Jay Stansfield is unlikely to have recovered from the knee injury he sustained at Fleetwood.

Having missed out on the playoffs on the final day last season, Plymouth have regrouped and put together a sustained promotion push this season which, with less than a month to go, sees a situation where two from four will go up automatically and with City having a huge say in things with having beaten fourth placed Barnsley a couple of weeks ago and still yet to visit Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich. There have been signs of a wobble in recent weeks, with Monday seeing the Pilgrims sink to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to Lincoln, while they trailed at Morecambe on Good Friday before rallying to win 3-1. And the less said about the EFL Trophy final the better… However, despite any knocks they have taken, such as the loss of Michael Cooper to injury or the recall of Morgan Whittaker from his loan spell by Swansea, Steven Schumacher’s side has continued to push at the top. Goals have come from all over, with Ryan Hardie top scorer with 13 (17 in all competitions), while Niall Ennis and Sam Cosgrove are also in double figures for the season despite often warming the bench.

The Sky cameras were at Home Park on Halloween to witness a scarily good match that finished 4-2 to the hosts. City led twice through goals from Archie Collins and Sam Nombe, but were pegged back quickly by Whittaker and Bali Mumba’s wonder strike before a Hardie brace sealed the points. City have happy memories of the last Devon Derby at the Park back in October 2019, a brace from Nicky Law (one from the spot) and goals from Tom Parkes and Randell Williams secured a huge 4-0 win. It is the men from Cornwall who hold the league head to head lead, however, with 30 wins to City’s 20, with 20 matches also finishing level.

The match officials for this game will be:-

Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistant Referees: Gareth Viccars and Justin Amey
Fourth Official : Christopher Wade

Darren Drysdale last refereed Exeter on New Year’s Day when we beat Oxford United at the Kassam. He was also the man in charge the last time Exeter played Argyle, the 4-0 drubbing meted out Argyle in October 2019.

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