After the relief of disposing of struggling Cheltenham last Saturday, Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy match against Reading turned out to be one best watched from behind the couch as a youthful City entered the record books in being thoroughly trounced 9-0, equalling City’s record defeat. In mitigation everyone who finished the game bar goalkeeper Gary Woods was a teenager, but Gary Caldwell will be keen to move on quickly ahead of a trip to another side that has made a strong start to the season. Caldwell is hopeful to have some of his injured players returning – with James Scott having started against Reading, while others such as Admiral Muskwe should be close to a return. The addition last week of Watts and Wildschut has added depth to the squad and both will hope to play a part on Saturday – Wildschut especially will feel he has a point to prove after leaving Oxford in the summer.
Having had a shocking campaign last time, Oxford had an impressive summer transfer window and this has manifested itself in a fine start to the season for Liam Manning’s side. Things didn’t look great when they lost 2-0 at Cambridge then were hammered 5-1 by Bristol City in the EFL Cup, but bar a crazy 2-1 defeat to Port Vale where the Us finished with nine men, Oxford have won all their league games since that Cambridge defeat. Like City,
Oxford suffered a defeat in the EFL Trophy in midweek, a 0-1 reverse to Manning’s former side MK Dons. The players to watch are likely to be joint top league scorers Tyler Goodrham and Mark Harris, as well as midfield dynamo Cameron Brannigan, while Kyle Edwards, who has two goals in three appearances since moving on loan from Ipswich, will hope to impress against the club where he spent the 17/18 season on loan.
While Oxford struggled last season, they did edge the bragging rights overall against City last season, scoring four on two occasions in league and FA Cup while City got some revenge on New Years Day. The corresponding fixture last season was that 1-0 win for City through a late Sam Nombe goal, while the reverse fixture saw Oxford race into a 4-0 lead through Brannagan, Long and a brace from Joseph before Jevani Brown and a first league goal for Sonny Cox reduced the arrears late on. Oxford again scored four in the FA Cup at the Kassam Stadium, Taylor, a double from Bodin and Brannagan with the goals before Matt Jay scored a late consolation.
City hold a solid league head to head lead with 16 wins to Oxford’s ten, 14 matches have finished level.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Christopher Wade and Ollie Williams
Fourth Official : Scott Simpson
This is Daniel’s first season in the EFL so has not officiated an Exeter City game before.