Just as the stands at St James Park emptied after the encouraging display against league leaders Gillingham on Tuesday evening, the Exeter faithful now welcome Capital One Cup finalists Bradford City to the Park this Saturday.
One glance at the table is enough to show how tight it still is at the top (and the bottom) of npower League 2 – needless to say every point counts with eight games left to play. Indeed, having already reached one cup final this season and with promotion still a realistic goal Exeter’s opponents the Bantams are, in the words of Paul Tisdale, the ‘standout team’ in League 2 this year. The Grecians, though, will take heart that three points could leave them just inches from the automatic promotion spots, and possibly look to their 5-1 drubbing of the Yorkshiremen from the 1972/73 campaign for inspiration.
Hypothetically if Bradford fielded their all-time XI (in their prime that is) against the Grecians this Saturday then surely Exeter would consider simply ‘parking the bus’: an attacking three consisting of Dean Windass, Robbie Blake and Peter Beagrie with Stuart McCall and David Wetherall manning the deck would look pretty formidable!
Fortunately most of these club legends have been decommissioned from active service, so Exeter’s Artur Krysiak
can hope that he may after all win some Fantasy Football points for keeping yet another clean sheet. As long as Bradford’s current sharpshooter Nahki Wells (18 goals this season) is kept under lock and key then the Reds should have nothing to fear.
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistants: Adam Bromley & Christopher Powell
Fourth Official: Adam Hopkin
James Meredith, Gary Jones and Garry Thompson could all make a return for the Bantams having overcome illness and injuries respectively.
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale: “They're a very capable unit, but we won't particularly be viewing their cup run in the scale of a league game where we’re at home and they’re away – but they’re certainly a very good side.”
Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson: “We’re doing all the right things but we’re not getting the goals and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. While we still have a chance to get in the play-offs we‘ll give it everything we‘ve got.“
Valley Parade may have a grand capacity of 25,136 but the Bantams’ 12th (and arguably 13th) man was not influential enough to prevent Exeter coming away from their trip up North with all three points. Jamie Cureton
was, yet again, on the scoresheet that day, sweeping in his 13th goal of the campaign after latching on to a nod-down from Matt Oakley
on the stroke of half-time. Although in terms of possession the game was pretty much even-stevens, it was enough to record Exeter’s first victory at Valley Parade since 1983.
The Grecians have most definitely held their own of late, and will be looking for an invaluable three points to consolidate their place in the play-off positions. Following the encouraging and commanding display against Gillingham, a repeat of that performance and possibly a goal surge from Jamie Cureton
would be a potent combination. Either way, the Bantams will struggle to score against a team that have kept seven clean sheets in ten games.
Bradford are undefeated in their last five, and so in that respect look like solid opposition. On the other hand they have drawn their last three – firing blanks twice – so have seen their own push for promotion stunted of late. Here we have two teams eager for the win; hence anybody turning up for the game at St James Park will definitely be getting their money’s worth.