Preview: Exeter City vs Barrow

City did their bit on Saturday by beating Rochdale 2-0, but results elsewhere meant the promotion party remains on hold with a win on Tuesday night guaranteeing League One status for next season. To do that, Matt Taylor’s side will need to defeat a side that has recovered well under a new manager to secure their safety at Oldham’s expense on Saturday. In terms of selection, Taylor will definitely have to make one change as striker Offrande Zanzala is ineligible to face his parent club. With Sam Nombe back on the bench on Saturday he may get the nod if Taylor considers him fit enough to start, otherwise either Padraig Amond or Kieran Phillips will step in. Elsewhere City will be sweating on the fitness of Sam Stubbs, whose knee swelled up ahead of the Rochdale match causing him to sit it out.

When this match was originally scheduled, Barrow were looking over their shoulder and under the stewardship of former City player Mark Cooper. However, Cooper’s services were dispensed with as the Bluebirds looked to pull clear of the drop, with perma-tanned Phil Brown, who failed in his bid to keep Southend up last season, drafted in. Lightning didn’t strike twice and this time Brown was able to turn around his side’s fortunes including a stunning 4-0 thrashing of Forest Green on Good Friday, while Saturday’s 1-0 win over promotion chasing Sutton, coupled with Oldham’s defeat to Salford, means Barrow’s EFL status is assured with two weekends to spare despite a horrific looking fixture list that saw them playing six promotion chasers in their final six matches. John “Brother of Wayne” Rooney was the hero on Saturday, his third goal since returning to the club from Stockport in January. Barrow will be without Josh Kay, who was given a second yellow while celebrating Rooney’s goal, apparently for something he said to the referee.

For City to clinch promotion they will have to do something they haven’t done since effectively ending Barrow’s first spell as a league side in 1972, and that is to win – a 7-1 scoreline like that day fifty years ago almost to the day would suit. The reverse fixture back in August finished 0-0, the main incident of note was Mark Cooper insulting the female linesman and, after an investigation, picking up a lengthy touchline ban ahead of the original date for this fixture in February. The Bluebirds were City’s final opponents last season with City needing to win and hope for favourable results elsewhere to extend their season, but a 1-1 draw put paid to what had been a disappointing run in – Jay gave City a lead in the first half before Beadling equalised in the second. Barrow have the slight edge in league head to heads with six wins to City’s five, but ten matches have finished level.

Match officials for this game will be:-

Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistant Referees: Andrew Laver and Michael Begley
Fourth Official : Mark Derrien

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