City’s wretched form continued with a first round FA Cup exit to Wigan last week, and having had a blank midweek for the first time in a while it is hoped that this will have given Gary Caldwell’s side a chance to work on the issues that have seen City drop from top to near the bottom in the space of a couple of months – particularly the art of creating and taking chances given City’s woeful record in front of goal. Caldwell will also be hoping for good news on the injury front having lost star Demetri Mitchell for the season – the likes of Rankine, Niskanen, Carroll, Watts and Fitzwater should be in contention at some point soon, hopefully some will make the trip to Fleetwood. Pierce Sweeney too has been playing through an injury.
With their sugar daddy languishing in prison, it was thought that Fleetwood may struggle this season and, while the off-field issues don’t appear to have impacted on their ability to sign players, the Cod Army have indeed struggled so far – Scott Brown lost his job and was replaced by Lee Johnson. Results under Johnson have picked up and Fleetwood go into the weekend unbeaten in their last five in all competitions, including wins in cups against Kidderminster and Leicester’s under 21 side in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night. Unlike City, Fleetwood seem to have realised that the object of the game is to put that little round white thing in the big netty thing, scoring 13 times in that five-match unbeaten run. Jack Marriott (five) and Junior Quitirna (four) have led the way, but former City striker Jayden Stockley has been reduced somewhat to bit-part player, scoring just once so far.
If there’s one thing in City’s favour it’s their record in this fixture – Fleetwood have yet to beat City, the record being three wins for City and three draws. Indeed City picked up four points from this fixture last season – the corresponding fixture finished 2-2, City twice coming back from Marriott strikes through McDonald and a 90th minute Sweeney equaliser. City again came from behind at the Park with a late goal, Mendes Gomes’ goal immediately cancelled out by Stansfield before Nombe struck the winner in injury time to seal a 2-1 win.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Thomas Kirk
Assistant Referees: Alan Clayton and Karl Buckley
Fourth Official : Kevin Mulraine
We’ve seen Thomas Kirk take charge of an Exeter game just the once, which was the 2-4 defeat to Oxford United last October.