Big Match Preview – Exeter (A)
As it stands: Exeter 25-13-8-4 (2nd, 47pts GD 8) | Ipswich 23-10-8-5 (5th, 38pts, GD 11) Current form: Exeter WDWDW| Ipswich DLDLL
Last time out: Forest Green Rovers 0 v 1 Exeter | Wycombe 1 v 1 Ipswich
Head-to-head: P27|Ipswich W11| Exeter W7| D9
Previous meeting: Exeter 1 v 1 Town (Exeter won 4-2 on pens), 14th August 2018, EFL Cup R1
Town head to Exeter in the last 16 of the Leasing.com Trophy with only three games separating Town and a trip to Wembley. The Blues are one of only a handful of clubs not to have featured at the National Stadium, with Town’s last appearance being at the old Wembley in 2000.
The Leasing.com Trophy is a competition that Paul Lambert has been far from concentrated on, using the competition to field several youngsters alongside senior players not getting many minutes. That is set to change on Saturday with Paul Lambert and Stuart Taylor both confirming it will be a strong team that takes to the field at St.James Park.
Exeter will provide a stern test to Paul Lambert’s men, The Grecians sit second in League Two and are undefeated in 14 encounters in regular time, losing to Hartlepool in the FA Cup in extra-time. Exeter manager, Matt Taylor, has also used the competition to rest several of his league stars. So far in the competition, Exeter topped Group E of the Southern Section with a 100% record, beating Cheltenham, Newport and West Ham U21s. In the last round they progressed past higher league Oxford United via a penalty shootout following a goalless home draw.
Last Time Out
1 – 1 Draw at Wycombe
Town started 2020 with a much improved display at league leaders Wycombe Wanderers. Paul Lambert made just the two changes, brining in James Wilson and Emyr Huws for Janoi Donacien and Andre Dozzell. After a defensive horror show at Sincil Bank, Town lined up in a 3-5-2 formation as opposed to the previous favoured 4-4-2.
Town had the better chances but had to settle for a point at league leaders Wycombe. James Norwood had put Town ahead early in the second half after a clever early free-kick from Luke Garbutt. Unfortunately, Town’s lead was short-lived after failing to deal with a flick on by Akinfenwa, Norris rushed out of his goal but was between by Wheeler who lobbed the on loan keeper.
1 v 0 win at Forest Green Rovers
Matt Taylor made three changes to the side that had drawn with Colchester United last time out as Nicky Law, Nigel Atangana and Ryan Bowman came back into the side.
The Grecians, who took the lead after four minutes through Nigel Atangana, had their goalscorer sent-off for a straight red card a minute into the second half and then had to withstand 18 shots at their goal, including one penalty, to earn a victory.
Tomas Holy will be back in goal after sitting out the latest batch of league games with Will Norris preferred over the former Gills stopper.
Janoi Donacien, if fit, will return at right-back, if he is not deemed fit than Gwion Edwards will continue in that role. Myles Kenlock will deputise at left-back with Toto Nsiala likely to partner James Wilson at centre-back. Luke Chambers and Luke Woolfenden appear likely to both be on the bench, although depending our strong Lambert picks the team either could well start at St James Park.
In midfield, Teddy Bishop appears certain to start his first game of the season, probably alongside Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes. Idris El Mizouni could come into contention but youngsters such as Brett McGavin and Tommy Hughes will probably be on the bench at best. Lambert is unlikely to take any risks with Cole Skuse and Jon Nolan after the pair sat out the draw on New Years Day. Emyr Huws and Alan Judge will likely be on the bench.
In attack, Freddie Sears will be starting for the first time this season, operating on the wing, with Armando Dobra probably most likely to take up the other wide role. If Lambert wants to opt for a more experienced player, Kayden Jackson or Alan Judge could take up the role. Will Keane will start in the central striking role.
Stuart Taylor says that Town are expecting a difficult game when they travel to Exeter in the last 16 of the leasing.com Trophy on Saturday.
Blues have utilised the competition thus far to blood young talent into the side but a number of established first-team players are expected to feature in Devon.
“It’ll be a strong squad,” he told iFollow Ipswich. “Earlier on in the tournament we had a lot of younger kids coming in, we had a lot of players trying to get game time.
“I think we’re getting to the stages now that we’re getting as strong of a team as we possibly can to go onto the pitch. The rotation we’ve had up to now gave everybody good game time.
“Everybody is fit, flying and ready to go. It’s now a case of fighting for places and we want to win every game we go into. Exeter is going to be a very difficult game. They’re flying just now in the league.”
Man in the Middle
Saturday’s referee is Josh Smith from Bedford, who has shown 50 yellow and five red cards in 17 games so far this season. Saturday’s match will be his first Town game.