These programme notes were written by Director Mike Herrick, for the Exeter City edition of This Is Our Town.
The earlier fixture away in Exeter last October was a strange affair. Taking the lead somewhat against the run of play, we somehow reached half-time all square but a devastating spell early in the second half took the game away from the hosts and we ran out comfortable winners in the end.
This was the match that took us to the top of the table – a position that we briefly relinquished before returning to the summit, where we still find ourselves today.
A glance at the league table shows just how keenly contested this season is and there is so much to play for, for so many sides. Exeter themselves have been up and around the top of the table throughout the season so we are under no illusions that today's game will be another keenly fought contest.
Despite our unlucky reverse against Wycombe last Tuesday, we remain in good spirits and eager to make amends today.
Throughout this transfer window we've been focussing hard on being able to add yet more quality to the squad to help us over the line and into League One.
I must admit that I'm not a great fan of the transfer windows. I think I preferred it in the 'old days' when the movement of players happened naturally up until a few weeks before the end of the season, rather than having all activity artificially compressed in just August and January.
As transfer fees become ever more ridiculous it's quite a sobering thought to realise that Manchester City have managed to spend a similar amount on their defence to the entire defence budget of Latvia (the country). That's not necessarily the fault of the transfer window – they'd probably have done that anyway – more a fault of the way the game has unfortunately been allowed to develop.
Nowadays the teams you play in the first half of the season can be totally different when the return legs are played. It's certainly now a season of two halves. Having said that, we're really pleased with the way the first half panned out and we now look to consolidate our position as we move into the final third.
Helping us to do this, we are absolutely delighted to welcome three new additions: firstly Lloyd Jones – a young centre-back from Liverpool – on a permanent contract; secondly, Flynn Downes, an exciting prospect on loan from Ipswich until the end of the season; and finally, Jake Jervis – a proven striker from Plymouth Argyle who was promoted with them last year – on a permanent contract.
Though these all look on the surface to be last-minute additions, they are far from being just reactionary signings. It's just that it seems to become increasingly difficult to finalise deals. All have been extensively scouted and, indeed, we tried to sign Jake in the previous window. Lloyd started in the Plymouth academy and was there with Isaac Vassell. Though Isaac was subsequently released, Lloyd saw how much he progressed at Luton with the coaching here and is fully aware how our staff can positively impact a player's career.
Both Lloyd and Flynn already have international experience. It's a measure of the regard in which our club is held that we can attract the high-calibre players we want, who in turn want to join us for the right reasons.
Having worked so hard to get to our current position, as a board we cannot allow our season to become derailed by injuries or suspensions which can never be foreseen, and we remain determined to give Nathan and his staff the best opportunity to realise all our hopes.
Congratulations are in order to Andy Awford and his academy staff for overseeing the achievement of the U18s. Their recent results have seen them move into the top six and they will now compete in Merit League One for the remainder of the season. Their home games usually take place on a Saturday morning at Ely Way, and your support is always welcome whenever they are in action.
Finally, can I draw your attention to this year's club charity of the season Transitions UK, on whose behalf donations are invited. Elsewhere in the programme you'll find details of the worthwhile work that this organisation achieves, and we encourage you to contribute with your customary generosity.
We would also like to thank main sponsors SsangYong for giving up their front of shirt space for this afternoon, when Transitions UK's logo will be worn.
The shirts will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Luton-based charity who do great work with young people who have a range of support needs, so please look out for the opportunity to bid on the club's website and social media channels in the coming weeks.
And so to the main event and the tussle for those all-important league points.
Sing loud and proud as always.
Best wishes to all.