Exeter City made it four home wins in a row with a stunning 3-1 win over promotion chasing Barnsley.
An unplayable performance from Jay Stansfield who opened the scoring, followed by a Harry Kite strike and Sam Nombe penalty, secured a magnificent three points for the Grecians, who will have some say in the make up of the top two in League One this season.
Barnsley came into the game 12 matches unbeaten following their 4-2 win over fellow title hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday, while City were keen to make it two wins in four days following the 5-0 thumping of Accrington on Saturday. Gary Caldwell made one change, with James Scptt replacing the rested Nombe, who was to have impact off the bench.
The opening five saw plenty long throws, and bouncing scraps both teams fighting for every ball, the City keeper Jamal Blackman asserting his authority making every ball in the box his own. The first set piece of the game came from a Sweeney sliding challenge, setting up an opportunity to test the Grecian backline, however the red and white stood firm, winning a foul on the edge of their own box. Barnsley, strutting their stuff, portraying quick interplay with confidence, looking for their centre forward Devante Cole on each venture into the City half.
Stansfield managed to sneak his way into the box, earning in return a corner, that was swept into the box looking for talisman Scott, however unable to get any clean connection with the ball. Not much to sing about for either sets of the rampant, fans, with both sets of teams fighting out a tight affair, showing the reasons to good form, every player showing no signs of nerves, just confidence and composure.
With very little to write about during the opening 25, the stage was set perfectly, an almost sold out SJP, floodlights beaming, and the red and white army on a roll at home, for the Grecians number nine Stansfield to knock it past the Barnsley centre half, and respond to the cries of shoot from the City fans. He wriggled out of the corner, bending it into the far right hand corner of the goal for goal number seven of the season.
With the tension boiling, neither sides dropping their intensity levels, the Tykes searching for a chance to nick one back, however no entrance into the City box, successfully soaking up the pressure. That was right up until a beautiful, surging set piece sailed over the defensive line, falling perfectly for Bobby Thomas who touched it passed the man between the sticks, this time sending the travelling away fans into passionate celebration.
With two goals coming in quick succession, both sides kept their foot on the throttle, challenging every call, going up for every contestable ball, driving to take back control. An exciting first half came to an end, after two additional minutes of play, both fans posed for the deciding half, which promised to be as enthralling as the opener.
The second half commenced with the Tykes setting the ball rolling. Both teams bringing the same energy back onto the pitch, each having quick starts, and several close calls, sharing strikes goalward, either sliding wide, or being marginally offside.
Magic man Stanno put his foot on the accelerator, and drove down the left flank, pulling a inch perfect ball back to soaring in Kite, firing the Grecians back infront for the second time.
Identically to the opener, both sides cranked it up a gear and iot was the Grecians edging control, looking dangerous on the attack, as well as comfortable under Tykes pressure. With Barnsley needing a boost, and any way of getting on level terms, Barnsley's man in charge Michael Duff make a triple alteration, seeing Watters, Thomas, Tedic and Benson, replacing Connell, Kane, Norwood and Cole, transforming the attacking makeup of the trailing side. City responded with a single change, as Nombe, looking to add to his impressive current form and season totals, in exchange for Scott.
Another solid shift in the middle for Kev McDonald came to an end, as Rekeem Harper taking his place, instantly winning the ball back in the middle, planting a platform for Nombe to exploit the forward space. It was also then end of prolific Jay Stansfield's evening, clocking two fabulous goal contributions in 80 minutes, deservedly getting a standing applause, as Newcastle loanee Joe White took his place out on the left hand side.
With Barnsley hoping that a final change would have a deciding impact on the outcome of the game saw the opposite. Following a swift move down the left side again, a Nombe effort was parried by Harruy Isted in the Barbsleuy goal, and an eager Joe White looked to get on the end of the rolling ball, resulting in Isted recklessly challenging, giving away a penalty. It was a chance to seal the deal, and seal it Nombe did as he made retributions for his spot kick miss at Cheltenham last week to make it eight SJP goals in four days for Caldwell's men.
Next Saturday sees the Red and White army make the coast to coast venture up to Fleetwood, for a 3pm kick off.
Exeter City Starting Line-up - Blackman (GK), Hartridge, Mitchell, Collins, Stansfield, Key, Aimson (c), Kite, Scott, Sweeney, McDonald
Subs used: Harper (78'), Nombe (65'), White (82')
Barnsley Starting Line-up - Isted (GK), Williams, B.Thomas, Andersen (c), Kitching, Cadden, Phillips, Connell, Kane, Norwood, Cole.
Subs used: J.Benson (63'), L.Thomas (63'), Cundy (87') , Tedic (64'), Watters (64')
Referee - Darren Handley
Attendance - 6,720 (450 away)