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Match Previews

Preview: Exeter City

4 December 2020

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It's a special matchday at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Saturday, not just for a meeting between two of League Two's top sides, but because for the first time this season supporters will be back inside the ground for the visit of Exeter City (kick-off: 3pm).

Since March the impact of the covid-19 pandemic has denied Robins fans the opportunity to watch games in the stands and on the terraces, but on Saturday up to 1,000 fans will get the chance to do so again following the recent decision made by the government to allow fans back into football stadiums in tier 2 and tier 1 areas.

Season ticket holders will be admitted to the game. There are a number of important rules to follow for those fortunate enough to be able to attend the match, and the club ask that all supporters arrive at least 45 minutes before kick-off and wear a face covering.

For those fans who won't be at the game you can watch it still in full on iFollow by purchasing a match pass.

Team news

Conor Thomas misses out with a calf problem and Sean Long also won't feature despite making good progress on his return from a hip problem.

Opposition

An Exeter City side who have lost just twice in League Two this season travel to Gloucestershire on Saturday. They're in excellent form having secured three consecutive wins in all competitions, bagging 13 goals in those three games, and having bounced back successfully from a rare recent defeat to Oldham Athletic.

The Grecians, who reached the play-off final last season only to lose to Northampton Town at Wembley, will provide perhaps Michael Duff's sides sternest test in the league this season.

Led by former Cheltenham defender Matt Taylor as manager, they boast a strong squad who will be desperate to claim a place in League One at the end of this season, and with goalkeeper Jonny Maxted back fit after a recent injury.

Defensively Tom Parkes and Irishman Pierce Sweeney provide good experience at this level. Rory McArdle, a former Northern Ireland international teammate of Michael Duff's, is another they can turn to at the back who has plenty of football under his belt.

In a midfield area skipper Jake Taylor is a former Cheltenham loanee, while fellow midfield man Nigel Atangana spent two seasons at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium. Nicky Law offers energy and in their wide areas they carry a threat with Randell Williams one to look out for.

Up top they have a number of options who are in excellent form in front of goal currently. Youth product Matt Jay has been in and among the goals, while ex-Motherwell man Ryan Bowman and the much travelled Nicky Ajose bring a danger in the final third.

If they need a bigger physical presence then 30-year-old Alex Fisher offers those qualities too.

The manager: Matt Taylor

Former Cheltenham defender Matt Taylor was appointed as Exeter manager in the summer of 2018, replacing long-serving boss Paul Tisdale, and stepping up from his duties working as a coach at the club.

Last season in his second campaign in charge he guided the Grecians to the League Two play-off final, but they couldn't get over the line against Northampton in a behind closed doors occasion at Wembley.

It's his first management job having previously spent time as a player/coach at Bath City and also coaching while working at Hartpury College here in Gloucestershire.

Previously in his playing days he started his career as a goalkeeper in non-league football, helping Burscough to win the FA Trophy in that position, but upon his move to the south-west with former university side Team Bath he was converted into a central defender.

From then on he earned a move to Exeter where his form earned him a move to Charlton Athletic. He went onto represent Bradford City and Colchester before moving to the Robins where after leaving the club he spent time at Newport County.

One to watch: Joel Randall

It's been a real break out year for 21-year-old Joel Randall. The Exeter academy graduate has netted eight times this season.

He spent the majority of last season out on loan with spells at Weston-super-Mare and Weymouth, while previously before that in past seasons he's also earned playing time in senior football from loan stints at Taunton Town, Tiverton Town and Bideford.

A lively attack minded midfielder, he is the son of former Aldershot, Burnley, York City and Forest Green Rovers midfielder Adrian Randall.

Watch the match on iFollow

You can watch the game online at home by purchasing a match pass for iFollow.

A pass is available for £10 and gives you full 90 minute access to watch the game. Subscribe online in advance of kick-off.

Match programme

The match programme is available for Saturday's match in both print and digital format and is available to buy online.

Midifeld man Liam Sercombe is the big interview as he looks back on the club that gave him his break in the game and coming up against them this weekend. He recalls his time with the Grecians who he helped to two promotions and played under long-serving boss Paul Tisdale until moving to Oxford United in 2015.

There's also a look at the club's Rainbow Laces week, Finn Azaz reflects on his return from injury, a detailed look at Exeter as an opposition, under-18s attacker Charlie Dashfield reflects on the first year of his scholarship so far, Michael Duff looks ahead to the game, a photographic look back at the midweek win at Bradford City and more.

You can purchase the print version of the programme online in advance for £2.50. The limited edition copy will also be available to buy from the club shop that will be located in the main bar on matchday.

The digital download version is also available to buy from the online shop. This download version is priced at £2.

Coverage

Follow @CTFCofficial on Twitter throughout matchday for updates and for the latest from the action on the pitch. You can also check out team news and goal updates on the club's Facebook page and Instagram account.

After the match make a visit to the club website to read a full match report and to hear reaction from Michael Duff and a member of his playing squad.

You can view extended highlights exclusively on iFollow a few hours after the full time whistle.


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