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📝 Match Report: Barnsley FC 1 Exeter City 2

Aitchison and Cole inspire huge win on the road

27 January 2024

Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Barnsley FC 1 Exeter City 2

Aitchison and Cole inspire huge win on the road

27 January 2024

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Clinical first-half strikes from Jack Aitchison and Reece Cole saw Exeter City side see off high-flying Barnsley at Oakwell.

Aitchison squeezed an early opener and Cole swept home a stunning second as the Grecians dominated the first half.

An incredible battling defensive performance in the second half limited the promotion pushers to Mael de Givegney’s consolation header as City left South Yorkshire with a terrific three points.  


Enforced changes through injuries to Ben Purrington (leg) and Luke Harris (hamstring) meant City made two changes to Tuesday night’s Westcountry win over Bristol Rovers. Dion Rankine and Vincent Harper returned to the side.

City had the first effort of the afternoon inside five minutes. Vinnie Harper stormed through the Tykes half and drew a foul around thirty yards out. Reece Cole whipped his side foot over the wall and forced a smart stop out of home keeper Liam Roberts.

It was Roberts who was the busier of the two keepers in the opening ten minutes and Harper had another chance to notch the first. A looped Ilmari Niskanen cross was latched onto by Vini, who saw his header tipped over the top by the Barnsley stopper.

The early dominance paid dividends for City and the Grecians were ahead in the 17th minute!

Ilmari swung a low cross into the box but a poor clearance from Barnsley went more up than out. Jack Aitchison was bravest in putting his head in to cushion the ball and smash one under the keeper from a tight angle to give City a deserved lead.

The buoyant City fans were in full voice as Niskanen picked the ball up a few moments later and drove from distance. His effort was not too far away.

The confident Aitchison showed his class plucking a ball out of the sky in the Barnsley box midway through the half. Unfortunately, he couldn’t repeat his earlier feat and the Tykes scrambled to clear.

City were in complete control of the first half and found their just reward just before on the half-hour mark with a screamer.


Aitchison again was dominant around the home side’s penalty area. The Scot laid it back to Reece Cole on the edge, who shifted the ball onto his left foot and picked out the top corner with some aplomb. A beauty to watch back on the highlights reel.

City were flying and Vini Harper opened the thrusters on the left wing on 39 minutes. Harper burst around three Barnsley defenders before forcing Roberts into a save at his near post.

The Grecians were agonisingly close to making it three a couple of minutes before the break. Cox showed his strength on the edge of the box and linked with Aitchison. The teenager's shot rebounded off the post and he couldn’t quite stretch to put home the loose ball.

It took the home side until the stroke of half time to register their first effort, Devante Cole heading over from six-yards out after a mini-game on pinball.

Barnsley needed to wake the home crowd and first a cross-shot cannoned off the outside of the post before half-time substitute Barry Cotter was denied by Vil Sinisalo low to the keepers’ right.

City responded with chances of their own, Ilmari flashed a deflected shot wide. From the resulting corner Sonny Cox flicked a free header wide, though maybe he should’ve listened to the shouts from two City players behind him?

Vil was alert on the hour mark to spare his defence’s blushes. Pierce Sweeney and Cheick Diabate momentarily lost their radar and Cole ran through on goal. The Fin darted out of goal and halted Cole’s effort.

The Tykes were finding a gear that City needed to slow. First, Adam Phillips belted the crossbar with a half-volley from the edge of the area before Cosgrove steered a chance wide of the far post. Sinisalo then denied John McAtee baring down on goal as City required some backs-to-the-wall defending.


Vinnie Harper hobbled off after a great shift and Yanic Wildschut replaced Sonny Cox as City rung the changes. Barnsley had the ball in the net through McAtee but the flag was rightly up for offside.

City’s man between the sticks was doing all he could to earn his bread. Vil reacted well to a swerving Luca Connell shot. Harry Kite, Kyle Taylor and Caleb Watts was tasked with seeing out the final ten minutes.

Admittedly, The Grecians were riding their luck. Cosgrove blazed over five minutes from time as we entered a nervy finish. Sweens was tidy at his near post stopping a fizzing ball across the box.

Barnsley’s pressure paid three minutes from time, and they halved the deficit through Mael De Gevigney’s free header.

Six minutes added on felt like sixty and despite McAtee’s late drive wide, City saw out a huge three points on the road.


Exeter City: Sinisalo, Niskanen, Sweeney, Diabate, Jules, Harper (Hartridge 63’), Cole (Kite 80’), Carroll (Taylor 80’), Aitchison, Cox (Wildschut 70’), Rankine (Watts 80’)

Subs:  Macdonald, Fitzwater,


Barnsley: Roberts, Williams, Russell (Connell 70’), De Gevigney, Cadden, O’Keefe (Cotter 46’), Phillips, Watters (Congrove 46’), Shepherd, Cole, McAtee

Subs: Killip, Lopata, Atkinson, Connell, Marsh


Referee: Thomas Kirk


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