Given City’s run-in it’s perhaps not surprising to see three successive defeats, but a 1-0 reverse in the Devon Derby against a surprisingly negative opposition with the goal a fortunate deflection probably hurt more than most. Gary Caldwell will need to pick up his side, and the supporters, very quickly with City’s penultimate home match of the season taking place on Tuesday night. Jay Stansfield returned to the side and completed 90 minutes, although it appeared to take its toll late on – and time will tell if he will have enough in the tank to start against Derby. Elsewhere Caldwell may be tempted to make further changes to keep his side fresh and with little to play for, so there may be roles to play for the likes of Sonny Cox and Rekeem Harper.
After the turmoil of last season, Derby’s first campaign in the third tier since 1986 was expected to be one firstly of consolidation but ultimately a promotion challenge, and the Rams come into Tuesday night’s match just outside the playoffs in 7th place but on a poor run of just one win (against relegated Forest Green) in their last six, meaning this fixture becomes something of a “must win” for Paul Warne’s side. Warne’s appointment at Derby did of course have a knock-on effect for City as it created a vacancy at Rotherham which was filled by Matt Taylor. David McGoldrick is a name that shouldn’t be mentioned in connection with the third tier, and he is enjoying a personal best season in front of goal with 19 in the league and 22 overall, while James Collins is also in double figures. There is quality all over the pitch including in midfield where Tom Barkhuizen and Conor Hourihane will pull the strings.
The reverse fixture, City’s first visit to Pride Park, was also Caldwell’s first in charge of City, and City put in a fine display in withstanding a lot of pressure to earn a 0-0 draw. Tuesday night marks the first time Derby have visited the Park in the league, having made two visits in cup competition – winning 3-1 in the League Cup in 1993/94 (see details here), but being vanquished 3-2 in City’s famous 1930/31 FA Cup run.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Assistant Referees: Christopher Husband and Ravel Cheosiaua
Fourth Official : Alan Young
We’ve not seen Andy Woolmer since the 0-0 against Salford City at the Park last March. His first match in charge of an Exeter game was in February 2004 in a 2-1 defeat away to Aldershot in a FA Trophy match.