Early goals from Jordan Moore-Taylor and David Wheeler give the Grecians victory
Exeter City moved up to fifth in the League Two table as goals from Jordan Moore-Taylor and David Wheeler in the opening 10 minutes of the match gave them a 2-1 victory over Barnet at St James Park.
The Grecians raced into an early advantage but were made to work hard for the points by a Barnet side that battled back into the match through John Akinde's second-half goal and created enough chances to get an equaliser.
City manager Paul Tisdale made two changes to the starting line-up, with Ethan Ampadu and Ollie Watkins coming in for Troy Brown and Lloyd James. That also saw a change in formation as City lined-up with three at the back and five in midfield.
Those changes seemed to catch the visitors off-guard as Exeter started the match brightly. Ollie Watkins, David Wheeler and Jake Taylor all caused problems in wide areas and City took the lead in the third minute of the match when, following a corner and a header against the crossbar, the Grecians kept the attack alive and swung the ball into the box once more. Reuben Reid showed great strength in the air to knock the ball down to Moore-Taylor who drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
That gave the home crowd and the players a lift, with Ryan Harley going close to doubling the lead with a right-foot shot from eight yards out. However, City were 2-0 up a minute later as Jake Taylor got in on the right-side of the box and drilled a low cross into the six-yard box that David Wheeler turned past Barnet keeper Jamie Stephens from close range.
Barnet were still a danger though and had plenty of first-half chances to cut the deficit. Their first effort at goal came from a Mauro Vilhete free-kick on 10 minutes, but Simeon Akinola headed another good chance just wide on 24 minutes and then Akinde hit a shot right across the face of goals six minutes later.
So the match was still very much in the balance at half-time, with Harry Taylor having another low shot well saved by Pym, while Jake Taylor played a neat one-two with Reid before firing a shot at goal that was well blocked by Ricardo Santos.
The second half began with Harley having a free-kick well punched clear by Stephens, but it was still Barnet who were enjoying plenty of possession and chances. Akinola sent a low bouncing cross into the area and Akinde was inches away from placing a diving header past Pym.
Jake Taylor could have made things slightly less nervous when he had a chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but he hit a volley wide first time when he had time to take a touch before shooting. Then Wheeler could have made it 3-0 on the counter but his shot went agonisingly wide of the left-hand post.
Akinola then had a shot well blocked by Moore-Taylor before he was denied again by another save from Christy Pym. Akinde then missed a couple of chances before Akinola played a pass to him in the area and he drilled a shot past Pym to get the visitors back in the match.
Pym then produced another good save from Mauro Vilhete to keep Exeter in front and Barnet kept piling on the pressure in the minutes that remained. However, the City defence stood firm - helped by another miss from Akinde in stoppage time - to hang on to the points.
Exeter City (3-5-2): Pym; Sweeney, Moore-Taylor, Croll; Wheeler, Ampadu (Archibald-Henville, 75), Tillson, J Taylor, Harley; Watkins, Reid (Oakley, 59). Subs not used: Olejnik, Archibald-Henville, Holmes, Grant, McAlinden, Stacey.
Booked: Reid, Ampadu
Barnet (4-4-1-1): Stephens; H Taylor, Santos, Clough, Johnson; Vilhete, Bover Izquirdo (Weston, 67), Coulson (Campbell-Ryce, 45); Akinola; Akinde. Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Nelson, Shomotun, Amaluzor, Tutonda.
Attendance: 4,780 (173, away)