City’s search for a win continues, but the performance with ten men at high-flying Stevenage seems to have worked wonders both in terms of City’s confidence as well as the connection between the players and supporters with emotional scenes after the final whistle. Gary Caldwell will be hoping to take this confidence into the last game before Christmas at an opponent undergoing its own renaissance after reluctantly parting company with their manager. Caldwell will be forced into at least one change with Jack Aitchison sitting this one out after his red card last week, but skipper Will Aimson is available again after his dismissal against Port Vale – although given the performance of City’s back line at Stevenage, especially the returning Cheick Diabate, it may not be a popular decision for him to walk straight back in. Caldwell will also be sweating on the fitness of the three players who limped off last week in Rankine, Cole and Wildschut, while Vincent Harper missed the trip to Stevenage but will hope to be back to at least make the bench.
Like City, Cambridge found the vultures circling in the summer and lost several key personnel including Harvey Knibbs and Sam Smith. Tipped to struggle, the Us have done just that, culminating in the dismissal of popular manager Mark Bonner, a move that was greeted with much sadness from the club’s supporters – however, this has led to an upturn in form under new manager Neil Harris, with two wins (one in the FA Cup) and a draw in the three games since Bonner’s departure. The goal threat appears to come from two players – Gassan Ahadme and Fejiri Okenabirhie, who have scored 11 league goals between them – the rest of their squad have seven combined. One name missing from their line-up will be Paul Digby thanks to a red card in their 2-1 win over Blackpool last week.
Last season’s fixtures between the sides yielded a pair of home wins. The corresponding fixture back in August saw Cambridge come from behind to win 2-1 – Brown gave City the lead in the first half but second half strikes from Digby and Smith sealed the points. City gained their revenge at SJP with a 2-0 win through Collins and McDonald. It’s therefore still very close in league head to heads, Cambridge edging City 25-24 with 11 draws.
The match officials for this game will be:
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistant Referees: Andrew Aylott and Alan Cresswell
Fourth Official : Marc Wilson
Darren Drysdale has refereed Exeter City on numerous occasions, the last being at St James Park in April when he took charge of the Devon Derby.