It may have been a meaningless EFL Trophy match where a close to first XI scraped a 1-0 win over far more inexperienced opposition, but having not tasted victory since that 1-0 win over Luton in the EFL Cup at the end of September City will have hopefully garnered a lot of confidence from having registered both a win and a clean sheet. Moreover, as expected Tuesday night’s match at Swindon gave Gary Caldwell an opportunity to give some minutes to players returning from injury with Dion Rankine and Ilmari Niskanen amongst those featuring. Reece Cole signed a new contract this week but will be touch and go following his recent injury, while Admiral Muskwe was substituted early on while with Zimbabwe in their first qualifier but was on the bench (albeit unused) for their second match against Nigeria, so may be a doubt for the trip to Bolton. Yanic Wildschut looks to have done enough in any case at Swindon to earn a start, although this may necessitate a formation change to accommodate him.
Being one of the “big boys” of the division, Bolton are expected to challenge at the top and Ian Evatt’s side has done just that so far, currently lying in third place in the table. In stark contrast to City the Trotters have been in fantastic form of late, with seven straight wins in all competitions and ten in their last eleven, the only blip a shock 3-1 defeat at home to Carlisle in early October. Bolton have also had the benefit of an extended rest back to November 14th when they beat Stockport 2-0 in the EFL Trophy. Their biggest goal threat remains Dion Charles, who has 11 in all competitions including nine in the league – ably supported by Victor Adeboyejo with five. Again unlike City Evatt’s side appears to have been a lot more stable with just 20 players used in the league compared with City’s 27. Almost ever-present has been Randell Williams, who will be aiming to impress against his former employers.
Last season Bolton took maximum points from this fixture without conceding – the corresponding fixture was 2-0 through Bradley and Charles, while it was Bradley again who ensured a very Good Friday for the visitors at SJP with the only goal. Those wins extended Bolton’s league head to head lead to 7-3, with four matches finishing level.
The match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Benjamin Speedie
Assistant Referees: Christopher Ward and Daniel Woodward
Fourth Official : Paul Stonier
The last time Ben Speedie took charge of an Exeter game was the 0-0 with Shrewsbury Town at St James Park In Fenruary. Prior to that was the televised League One game at Forest Green which City won 4-0.