A squad-stricken Exeter City battled for a hard-earned goalless draw against a physical Barrow side.
165 brilliant travelling Reds watched on as Strong coastal headwinds ensured a feisty affair where emotions ran high and the number of clear-cut chances quite the opposite.
Ben Seymour and Jevani Brown went closest for the Grecians with only tame efforts from range.
Barrow’s physicality was their only real threat but failed to break through the resilient City back line- spearheaded by the brilliant Pierce Sweeney and George Ray who scarcely missed a header all night.
In a late confrontation with the Assistant, Barrow Manager Mark Cooper received his marching orders, capping off a frustrating night of League Two football.
Matt Taylor made four changes from the defeat at Leyton Orient on Saturday with Alex Hartridge the most notable returnee. Padraig Amond made his first City start.
The heavy wind whistled in from the coast and the game got underway with City kicking toward the strong away support.
Barrow fired in the first meaningful effort of the evening. Patrick Brough and Josh Kay worked the ball neatly on the left-hand side. Brough’s cross was only half dealt with by the Grecians defence and Ollie Banks’ effort sailed wide.
After 18 minutes, the Grecians sought out their first chance. Matt Jay powered his way through the Barrow midfield, earning a promising looking free kick. Jevani Brown struck the set-piece, though his effort flew into the crowd.
The weather almost gifted Barrow a 31st minute lead. Remeao Hutton hooked a ball into the Exeter box, and Cameron Dawson seemingly misjudged the flight. Luckily for the visitors, Ozzy Zanzala wasn’t on hand to meet the cross.
A couple minutes before the break Amond was inches from putting City ahead. Jake Caprice launched a high ball forward, and as the Barrow defence failed to clear, the Irish striker was half a stride from meeting the loose ball and rolling into what would have been an empty net.
Jay tried a speculative chip at the start of the second half as Pierce Sweeney fizzed a ball down the line. Up the other end Kay threatened with a flat cross which evaded everyone in the City area.
On his return to the side Alex Hartridge made a desperate clearance on the line. The marauding Zanzala got in behind and rounded Dawson. Hartridge was quickest to the goal bound ball and mercifully swept it into the stand.
The second half slogged its way through the first half an hour. Little of any chance for either side as both teams decided they’d turn it into the boxing fight instead. Matt Taylor looked to rectify the scrappiness by bringing on Ben Seymour.
Immediately the youngster looked bright, getting a couple of half shots away, the second of which nestled into keeper Paul Farman’s hands.
Barrow substitute George Williams had a drive from distance narrowly go over as the game entered its final stages. Brough also had an off-target attempt has he met Hutton’s high ball at the back post.
In the first minute of four added on, Barrow manager Mark Cooper was given his marching orders for dissent toward the match official. Barrow pressed for a late winner forcing pinball in the City box. The non-league style melee summed up one of more physical battles Exeter City will have to endure this season.
The Grecians are back in home comforts on Saturday as we welcome Bristol Rovers in a Westcountry Derby.
BARROW AFC: FARMAN, HUTTON, BROWN, ELLIS, BROUGH, GRAYSON, WHITE (TAYLOR 85’), BANKS, KAY (WILLIAMS 73’), GORDON, ZANZALA (JAMES 79’).
SUBS: MOLONEY, J JONES, ARTHUR, NTLHE,
EXETER CITY: DAWSON, CAPRICE, SWEENEY, RAY, HARTRIDGE, KEY, DIENG (ATANGANA 64’), KITE, JAY, BROWN, AMOND (SEYMOUR 71’)
SUBS: LEE, ROWE, DYER, DODD,
REFEREE: ANDREW KITCHEN