• Kieran Horn


Exeter City welcome Chris Beech’s Carlisle United to St James Park this weekend, aiming to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.

The Grecians opponents for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off sit in 4th position, two places above City, and manager Matt Taylor admits he feels confident going into the game but still expects it to be highly competitive, especially with the attacking players Carlisle brought in during the summer transfer window.

“He (Chris Beech) kept the best ones of last season’s team and signed 16 players, and where they are would suggest they’ve recruited well.

“It’s two good teams going at it and hopefully we’ve got a good chance of coming out on top but we’ll have to perform well and we might need a little bit of luck on the way,” said Taylor.

Both teams played this past Tuesday night, Carlisle beat Morecambe 3-1 and Exeter earnt a hard-fought point away to Leyton Orient.

An early goal from Orient meant that City were immediately on the back foot and had to fight their way back into the game, the mid-week fixture was the fifth time City have conceded first so far this season and it’s something Taylor preferably wants to stamp out.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been on the receiving end of too many first goals against us this season and it’s something we’re looking to address.

He added: “If we’re being aggressive with our style of play, at times you do leave yourself a little bit open at the back, we’ve scored enough goals this season but I still want us to keep more clean sheets."

The Grecians face a number of injury concerns heading into the game, with the most prominent one being in between the sticks.

Jonny Maxted is already missing due to a dislocated kneecap and he’s since been joined on the treatment table by Lewis Ward who sustained an ankle injury last Saturday.

“It’s the outside ligament of the ankle, I’m not a medical expert but if you’re going to damage one side of the ankle you want it to be the outside as opposed to the inside but there is significant damage there, so it’s going to be a few weeks before we see Wardy," said Taylor.

The injury crisis in goal prompted City to bring in Reading youngster Jokull Andresson on an emergency loan, and while the Icelandic keeper was solid in his City debut at Orient and will be in goal on Saturday, Taylor admits that he is still looking at other options.

“It depends how he settles in and our recruitment in terms of other goalkeepers available, we were close to keepers who’ve got league experience before we brought Jokull in so it depends what happens in the next few days,” said Taylor.

The Exeter City boss faced another scare with possible absent players after Scunthorpe United announced they had several players test positive for COVID-19, just a few hours ahead of their game against Exeter last Saturday.

Following the 3-1 victory for Exeter over Scunthorpe, the Lincolnshire-based club then revealed further positive cases, but luckily for Taylor it was good news for his players.

“All negative (results), I’m surprised but absolutely delighted, I was fearful of the worst to be honest with you but really pleased as it means we’re not missing any players," said Taylor.

While City have had their problems defensively, one man has had a huge impact going forward in recent weeks in captain Jake Taylor. Despite being a central midfield player, his manager claims he’s not surprised that the Welshman is starting to get on the scoresheet consistently.

“He gets in good positions, traditionally for a number of seasons now he’s contributed. I actually feel like over the last couple of seasons he could’ve contributed more in front of goal.

“His timings been perfect, coming onto the ball late and once you score one goal more often than not, they come in two’s and three’s and we hope that continues for Jake,” said the Grecians gaffer.

A win for Exeter would take them above Carlisle and with two teams who like to attack coming head-to-head, it’s very likely that an unbeaten run will come to an end at St James Park on Saturday.