Next Up: Exeter City vs Charlton Athletic

The international break came at a time when City’s fortunes were on the up, but the Easter weekend gives Gary Caldwell’s side the chance to cement the place in next season’s League One line-up – the win over Burton in the last fixture went a long way towards ensuring City’s safety. That win did, however, come at a price with Zak Jules’ red card during the half-time interval depriving Caldwell of one of his most dependable defenders. Pierce Sweeney, withdrawn at half time due to illness against Burton, is also due a suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards. With both missing Ben Purrington and Cheick Diabate are likely to start against Charlton while Alex Hartridge and Jack Fitzwater could also come in from the cold. Elsewhere Caldwell may be reluctant to make changes, although this may depend on whether Vincent Harper has yet recovered from the injury picked up at Shrewsbury.

Charlton were expected to compete towards the top end of the table, but a torrid spell of three months without a win saw the Addicks instead looking over their shoulder. Nathan Jones, somewhat chastened by a poor spell in the Premier League with Southampton, has returned to management with Charlton and appears to have made an impact – his side are now unbeaten in eight matches, although five of those matches have been drawn. Like City, Charlton are one of those sides now considered by most to be safe, occupying 16th place in the table, one place behind City after their 1-1 draw at Fleetwood in their last fixture. Their fortunes have revolved around those of Alfie May – the prolific striker has picked up where he left off at Cheltenham and is the division’s top scorer with 21 league goals (25 in all competitions). He is just one of a number of attacking options that makes observers wonder what has gone wrong this season – with the likes of Tyreece Campbell and Miles Leaburn both aiming to follow in their respective fathers’ footsteps.

If anything epitomised City’s fall from top to bottom in the early part of the season it was the 4-1 thrashing dished out at The Valley. City led through James Scott before Corey Blackett-Taylor equalised on the stroke of half time. Things took a turn for the worse in the second half, aided by referee David Rock who, not for the first time in his career angered City supporters with his performance. First he awarded a soft penalty – Sinisalo saved from May but the striker tucked home the rebound. From the kick off May went flying after a slip from Will Aimson – a red card was produced despite video evidence showing no sign of any contact. City went to pieces after this and conceded further goals through Leaburn and a second from May. Charlton were also the victors on their last visit to SJP, racing into an early 2-0 lead through Rak-Sakyi and Blackett-Taylor. Caldwell made an early change with Jack Sparkes hauled off for Demetri Mitchell, and Mitchell immediately reduced the arrears but, despite their best efforts, City couldn’t force an equaliser. Those wins for Charlton now make it six in a row in all competitions and extended their league head to head lead to 16-10, with five draws.

The match day officials for the game will be:-

Referee: Declan Bourne
Assistant Referees: Paul Lister-Flynn and Stuart Kane
Fourth Official : Mark Derrien

Declan Bourne last refereed an Exeter City at the end of last season, the 2-1 defeat away to Sheffield Wednesday.

Pre-match interview with Gary Caldwell

Pre-match interview with Reece Cole

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