Exeter City v Tranmere Rovers – The match preview

Exeter City v Tranmere Rovers – The match preview


Saturday 12th December 2020

English Football League Two


This Saturday afternoon, Keith Hill’s ‘super whites’ travel to Exeter City in the aim of adding momentum to their midweek EFL Trophy win. However, they will also be aiming to turn wrongs to rights after losing in their last league encounter. 

It will be a great test of the club’s strength and the relatively new manager will certainly get to experience the quality that his side has after being in charge for three weeks. This is because Exeter are placed in fifth starting the campaign off to a good standard, after being heavily defeated in the previous play off final. 

If Rovers do manage to pick up three points, they may be rewarded with a play-off place. Thus, this league encounter should be very interesting and one that spectators should be looking forward to.


In his pre match meeting with the press, Hill reported that there are no new injury problems. This is great news as it means that there is a fully fit squad to choose from with the exception of forward Stefan Payne who is recovering from an operation on a groin injury. 


The game this weekend will be played at St James Park, which has a capacity of 8,696. The ground’s record attendance being 20,984 who witnessed a 4-2 defeat to Sunderland in an FA Cup sixth round replay in 1931.

It is here where Matt Taylor’s dugout can be found, it has been his since he was appointed by the club for his first managerial role in 2018. 

When the Chorley born man was a footballer, he was a centre-half and was a product of Everton’s youth system. At the Merseyside club he was a goalkeeper. 

It was in 2006 that he moved up the pitch, catching the eye of the Team Bath manager whilst in this role for Sheffield University. He would soon play for Exeter City, having an important role in the season that the club won promotion from the Conference with a play off final win. 

He would earn his coaching badges when becoming a player-coach upon his return to Bath City. He has since impressed as manager of the ‘Grecians’, missing out on the playoffs in his first season by a single point. Last season, they would get to the play off final but lose heavily to Northampton Town.  

In pre-season, Exeter aimed to bolster their defensive ranks. Full backs Jake Caprice and Lewis Page were brought in from Tranmere Rovers and Charlton Athletic. Centre half Rory McArdle being brought in from Scunthorpe United. Young Icelandic goalkeeper Jokull Andresson signed on a short term loan deal from Reading, in October. 

Nine players would exit the Devonshire club gates on a permanent basis, an evident clear-out. 

The squad changes have seemed to work as Taylor’s side are currently placed 5th in the league two table, with seven victories from sixteen games. 

In the FA Cup they are through to the third round. The ‘Grecians’ have beaten Fylde and Gillingham leaving them with a televised upcoming tie against Sheffield Wednesday to play in January.

However, they have been knocked out of the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy being defeated against Bristol City and Northampton Town. They seem to have no luck against the ‘Cobblers’.

Matt Jay is the hosts leading goalscorer, with nine goals in sixteen games. The 24-year old striker is an academy product of the club where he is currently excelling. He was snapped up by the club’s youth system when he was just seven years old, thus he has been at the club for seventeen years. 

He has had to show his quality through having three different loan spells all at Southern non league clubs: Weston-super-Mare, Hayes and Yeading United and Truro City. This is certainly his best campaign so far, meaning he is this weekend’s ‘one to watch’.    


Kevin Johnson is the ‘man in the middle’ of St James Park this Saturday afternoon. This season, he has officiated thirteen games. Two being in league two, where he has awarded three yellow cards and one penalty kick. The experienced referee will be helped by his assistants, Adam Ricketts and Robert Dabbs.  


One of Johnny King’s greatest games as Tranmere manager was against Exeter City. This game was to be the start of the club’s greatest of successes. 

Gary Williams would be the player to score the goal that would see Rovers keep their football league status, five seasons later the club was in the second division.


Tranmere have competed against the ‘Grecians’ on 36 different occasions. 

Wins – 19

Draws – 5

Losses – 12

The two clubs first met, in the 1961/62 season, it was in the September of 1961 that they first competed against each other. A seven goal thriller at Prenton Park, meant Exeter City took all three points back to Devonshire. The game finished 3-4.


I believe Tranmere will win on Saturday afternoon, it will be an incredibly difficult but interesting occasion and it will be a great test of defensive qualities. 

Score prediction – Exeter City 1 Tranmere Rovers 2

Team prediction – Davies, O’Connor, Clarke, Monthe, Macdonald, Spearing, Morris, Lloyd, Feeney, Vaughan, Blackett-Taylor


If you enjoyed this match preview, why not read my Q+A with a supporter of the ‘Grecians’.

He tells readers how he started to love the Devonshire club, his thoughts of how their season has gone so far and his thoughts going into Saturday’s league encounter against a team he describes to have a ‘great and very loud away support’. 

  • Gary Williams celebrates scoring the winning goal at Prenton Park against Exeter City in 1987. 

Thank you very much for reading, 

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

Join the conversation


  1. Brilliant pal, let’s hope you’re right and Rovers are in the play off positions come 5 o clock

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