City’s poor recent league form continued in controversial fashion with a 4-1 defeat at Charlton thanks in part to a bizarre dismissal from a referee who has previous as far as City are concerned. Gary Caldwell will no doubt be hoping that Will Aimson’s red card for falling over after being clipped by Alfie May will be overturned ahead of another tough match on Saturday, especially as Jack Fitzwater limped off to join the massed ranks on the treatment table. Assuming Fitzwater misses out Pierce Sweeney will return to the starting line-up having been dropped in favour of Fitzwater in the last couple of matches. Should Aimson’s red card not be overturned, Zak Jules would be likely to fill in at centre back causing something of a shape change. Elsewhere City will be sweating on the fitness of some of the other injured players and Caldwell will hope that at least one or two will be fit at least for the bench.
Despite a summer where they lost their manager to Swansea and found themselves under investigation for their finances, Barnsley are justifying the pundits’ prediction for another promotion challenge and sit fourth after a 4-0 thrashing of Cambridge on Tuesday night. Like Caldwell a Scottish centre back, Neill Collins was prised from the USL in the US to replace Michael Duff, and he couldn’t have got off to a better start than a 7-0 thumping of Port Vale in his first match. A draw and two defeats followed, but five wins and two defeats in their last seven league games have seen the Tykes move into promotion contention. While several key players left in the summer, including former City striker James Norwood, signings such as Max Watters and Sam Cosgrove have added some quality particularly in the final third. It is Devante “Son of Andy” Cole who has captured the headlines, however, with nine league goals already to his name.
Although Barnsley were comfortably in the playoff zone last season, for some reason they found City a tough nut to crack, losing both fixtures. The corresponding fixture was eventually played at the third attempt – the first called off due to the FA Cup, the second more controversially a couple of hours before kick off as torrential rain rendered the pitch unplayable. Goals from Stansfield, Kite and Nombe gave City a 3-1 win after Thomas had equalised in the first half. The match at Oakwell, the first since Matt Taylor’s departure to Rotherham, saw Kevin Nicholson’s caretaker reign get off to a great start as goals at the start of each half from Stansfield contributed to a 2-0 win. Those wins extended City’s league head to head lead to 11-7, with four matches finishing level.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Scott Jackson
Assistant Referees: Hugh Gilroy and Derek Eaton
Fourth Official : Andy Bennett
Scott Jackson is a newly promoted EFL referee, so hasn’t refereed an Exeter City game before, though has been a fourth official. You can read more about this former Royal Navy referee here.