Preview: Exeter City vs Barnsley

City returned to winning ways in glorious style against relegation-threatened Accrington, their 5-0 win the first five goal victory in the third tier since 1993, meaning Gary Caldwell’s side goes into a very tough run-in in great spirit. City still need to play all of the top seven in their final nine fixtures, starting with a fixture against Barnsley that has already had to be rearranged twice – firstly due to Barnsley’s involvement in the FA Cup, the second more controversially when the match was called off a couple of hours before kick off due to adverse weather conditions. With Jevani Brown having pleaded guilty to one of the two assault charges against him ahead of a full trial in July his club suspension will therefore likely rule him out for the rest of the season when he is out of contract, so the mercurial Jamaican has probably played his last City match. Elsewhere Kegs Chauke will miss the next two fixtures while on South Africa U23 duty. James Scott notched his first goal since joining from Hull in January, but with Nombe and Stansfield also scoring he’ll probably have to be patient – with Caldwell intimating that next season Scott will come into his own.

With the season drawing to a close Barnsley have come into a golden run of form as they seek an immediate return to the second tier, with the Tykes having won ten and drawn two in an unbeaten run dating back to mid-January. Michael Duff’s side also has the advantage of having had the weekend off, their last fixture being a 4-2 win over South Yorkshire promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday. On the scoresheet that day was James Norwood, the former City striker now has nine for the season, two behind Devante Cole (son of Andy). Other players to look out for include Nicky Cadden and defender Liam Kitching.

Barnsley were in similarly good form when City made the long trip to Oakwell back in October and, given their form and the fact City had lost their manager that week, the odds were against City. However, goals in the early stages of each half by Jay Stansfield, his first goals for the club, sealed a shock 2-0 win. Barnsley’s last match at the Park was way back in November 1980, when they left with the two (!) points following a 1-0 win on their way to promotion. It is City, however, who hold the league head to head lead with ten wins to Barnsley’s seven, four matches finishing level.

The match officials for this game will be:-

Referee: Darren Handley
Assistant Referees: Kevin Morris and Alex James
Fourth Official : Justin Amey

Darren last refereed an Exeter game in January 2022, at Walsall that Exeter City won 2-0. Darren Handley was also due to referee the original game in January.

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