FA CUP PREVIEW: Exeter City v Luton Town
While most teams would have had their fingers crossed for a home draw in the FA Cup first round this season, that probably wasn't the case with Exeter City.
The Grecians have endured a nightmare time at St James Park this term, failing to win a league game all season, picking up just one point from a possible 21, scoring twice in those seven games, conceding 10.
The long-suffering home fans have witnessed two victories, albeit both in cup competitions, that an extra time success over Brentford in the EFL Cup, plus a 3-1 win over Chelsea U23s in the EFL Trophy.
It’s a continuation from last term too, with City winning a mere two league games at home since the turn of the year, leading to some supporters calling for Paul Tisdale to end his decade-long spell in charge recently.
However, the unrest appears to have died down with Grecians fans then voting to ask the club to renegotiate the contract of the boss last month.
The League Two club, who are owned by their fans via the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust, passed a motion which calls on the club’s board to confirm if Tisdale has a notice period in his contract, and if so to serve notice on it and negotiate a new one.
The fact that City are not marooned at the bottom of the table is due to some hugely impressive away form with five wins from eight games, including victories at Accrington and Colchester, while their last two matches have seen Barnet (4-1) and Morecambe (3-0) swept side.
Tisdale now wants that form to transfer to home soil, telling BBC Exeter: “There are a lot of people that want that kind of performance at home, me included, and the players are ready for it, it’s coming.”
Exeter do have good recent memories in the FA Cup to lean on too, as least season they knocked out Didcot and Port Vale on the way to a third round glamour tie with Premier League giants Liverpool.
They held the Reds 2-2 at St James Park and did themselves no disgrace in losing the replay 3-0 at Anfield either.
Team news: Luton striker Jack Marriott and defender Akin Famewo picked up knocks in the week but both are expected to be fit, leaving just Danny Green and Nathan Doyle out.
For Exeter, keeper Christy Pym is unlikely to play after having stitches to a knee injury picked up against Morecambe last weekend, as is Luke Cross, who suffered a concussion in the game.
David Wheeler and Jake Taylor both picked up knocks too, although might be fit, while defender Troy Archibald-Henville could be in contention after completing 45 minutes for the reserves.
Top scorers: Hatters: Cameron McGeehan, Danny Hylton (8). Grecians: Lee Holmes, David Wheeler, Ollie Watkins, Jake Taylor, Liam McAlinden, Joel Grant (3).
Man in the middle: John Busby - official has had 12 games this term, showing 45 yellows and no reds yet, taking Luton once, the 2-1 win at Gillingham in the EFL Trophy tie during August.
Earned promotion from the National League last term, with 18 games, where he showed 44 yellows and eight reds, twice sending off two players in a match.
Assistant referees are Kevin Morris and Adrian Tranter, with the fourth official Mark Russell.
In charge: Paul Tisdale, 43-year-old, who came through the ranks at Southampton in 1991, although only made 16 appearances for the Saints, before spells at Northampton Town and Hudderfield Town.
Spent time with Bristol City, Exeter, FinnPa (Finland) and Panionios (Greece) before returning to enjoy a year with Yeovil Town, unti injury forced him to end his career early.
Took a coaching role with Team Bath in 2000, leaving in 2006 to become Exeter boss, leading the Grecians back into the Football League and has stayed there ever since, currently the second longest-serving manager in English football, behind Arsenal supremo Arsene Wenger.
View from the dug out: City boss Paul Tisdale talking to the Exeter Express and Echo: “Of course we’re playing against a very good Luton team, who seem to be on the up with a resurgent style of play under their new manager.
“So we’ll expect a difficult game and of course we have them in three or four weeks’ time at home in the league, so we’ve got them coming up very quickly again, but this is a different day – it’s the FA Cup and it all feels different when you play in the cup.”
Friendly faces: Hatters boss Nathan Jones spent a brief spell at Exeter City on loan from Southend in the 1997-98 campaign, playing six times and scoring once.
Played for both: Jayden Stockley - 23-year-old striker joined Luton on loan from Bournemouth in January 2015, scoring three goals in 13 appearances.
Was also loaned to Exeter the following campaign, netting an impressive 10 times in 22 games, including against Luton in the Grecians 4-1 defeat on the final day.
Signed for Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen in the summer and has managed three goals in 16 appearancs so far.
One to watch: Joel Grant - 29-year-old midfielder is enjoying a decent time in front of goal recently, netting twice in his last two matches against Cambridge and Morecambe.
Starting his career at Watford, Grant then headed to Aldershot, before a £130,000 move to Crewe followed in June 2008, scoring 18 goals in just over 100 appearances.
After that, he had spells at Wycombe and Yeovil, before moving to Exeter in August 2015, where he has netted seven times in 41 games since.
We’ve got FA Cup form: Luton have yet to lose to Exeter in the FA Cup during their previous three meetings.
In the 1959/60 season, Luton were 2-1 winners at St James Park in a third round encounter, Gordon Turner scoring twice.
That year, Luton then knocked Huddersfield out 1-0 courtesy of Tony Gregory’s goal, only to go out 4-1 at home to Wolves at home in the fifth round.
They also met twice in the 1966-67 season, drawing at Exeter and then winning the replay.
Last time out: Luton’s last trip to Exeter in the FA Cup was in 1967, a first round tie, with Ray Whittaker netting in a 1-1 draw.
Bruce Rioch and David Pleat then ensured Town progressed in the replay, 2-0 winners at Kenilworth Road.
That set up a trip to Bristol Rovers, where Luton lost 3-2 despite a double from Derek Kevan.
Hatters: Read, Thomson, Jardine, Conboy, Moore, Slough, Johnson, Pleat, Riddick, Rioch, Whittaker.