The Season Ahead
Though the 2020/21 League Two season will be Exeter City's ninth successive in the fourth tier, it is certain to be very different to any of the previous eight that preceded it.
Much has changed since we were last able to cheer on the Grecians in person, so as the season approaches here's a quick look at what League Two looks like for the upcoming campaign.
The most immediate difference will be the continued absence of football fans within stadiums as a result of continued social distancing guidelines brought in due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is still unconfirmed as to when crowds will be allowed back into stadiums in League Two, but the Trust and club will continue to update members and supporters of the club as the situation changes.
The EFL have recently tested the reintroduction of fans in grounds, with Cambridge United having allowed supporters into the Abbey Stadium this past Tuesday, with a second test originally planned for today's league fixture against Carlisle United.
With regards to changes to the division, Bolton Wanderers, Southend United and Tranmere Rovers have come down from League One (with Bury's expulsion from the EFL meaning only three teams came down instead of four), whilst Barrow and Harrogate Town have come up from the National League.
Of the above, Bolton and Tranmere are predicted to do best, with Salford City and Mansfield Town's dealings in the transfer window also placing them in the race for the League Two title according to a number of pundits. Cheltenham, Port Vale, Forest Green and Bradford City are also expected to mount a promotion challenge.
At the other end of the table, Morecambe continue their seemingly annual tradition of being tipped to go down, with Stevenage also predicted to finish in the relegation places. Oldham Athletic, Barrow and Crawley Town are also expected to be battling at that end of the table.
As for the Grecians, for a long time now we have been a team renowned for nurturing young talent and providing academy graduates with the opportunity to develop into first team players.
This reputation serves us well going into the new season, as a number of promising young player continue to put in the hard work as they look to earn more pitch time in Matt Taylor's first team.
“We know they are a talented bunch, but you have to be talented day in, day out, week in week out during a League Two season. It was fantastic to witness that Leasing Trophy campaign because there were some really big performances in there".
- Matt Taylor, Devon Live
In a sense, the change in the footballing landscape perhaps could not have come at a better time for many of our academy graduates, particularly those who have enjoyed successful loan spells in the last few campaigns.
The likes of Will Dean, Josh Key, and Joel Randall, to name but a few of the talented individuals who have recently graduated from the academy, have now been presented with an opportunity to progress and stake a claim in the match day squad and starting XI following their spells in non-league.
The invaluable experience they have gained at the likes of Tiverton Town, Truro City and Weymouth - as well as their integration with our first team squad and coaching staff at the Cliff Hill - has set them up well to supplement the experienced players that Matt has brought in during the summer transfer window.
The City faithful will have seen glimpses of the potential of these young professionals in last season's Leasing.com Trophy run, which saw the young Grecians just minutes away from reaching the final at Wembley before a heartbreaking late comeback by an experienced Pompey side. We hope this season they can go one better!
With a strong blend of youth and experience, City have been tipped to be in a race for automatic promotion, with some speculators placing us as high as fourth.
It remains to be seen if the predictors have called it right, but it is certain that we have another exciting, albeit unusual, season ahead of us once again.