20 February 2001.
Alex keeps City battlers afloat
BY NICK BEER
EXETER CITY 1 BARNET 0
LONDONER Alex Inglethorpe clambered off the bench to fire the stoppage-time winner that secured. Exeter City a vital victory over visiting Barnet last night. The Grecians were heading towards their second consecutive scoreless draw
at home until Inglethorpe's sublime turn and vol- ley a minute into time added on. There was little of the free-wheeling football produced by City during their epic 3-0 victory at relegation rivals York at the weekend. But it ain't the way you do it, it's what you do that gets results, and a fleeting moment of magic was enough to send a bumper St James's Park crowd home in near delirium. City have now harvested 11 points out of a possible 15, kept four clean sheets in their last five games and are mercifully in the sort of form that wins relegation battles. Victory over Tony Cottee's Barnet elevated the club to 20th spot in Division 3, ahead of Carlisle,York, Halifax and Lincoln and level with Darlington and Shrewsbury. City boss Noel Blake was quick to remind everyone after Saturday's triumphant trip to North Yorkshire that the club was still up to its neck in relegation trouble. "The water is only at our chests now," he said after last night's win. "I am delighted with them at the moment, now we have got to make sure we maintain that and keep our heads above water. "This wasn't a game where we really knocked the ball about as well as we can, but there are many ways of winning a football match. "Tonight we showed our resoluteness and togetherness, we were always in the game and it took a special goal to win it." For the first time in his managerial career, Blake named an un- changed 11 and bench with injury and suspension again denying him the services of frontman Paul Read and skipper Chris Curran. The game started as it was destined to carry on-scrappily with both sides treating the ball like a potato fresh from the oven. The lively Christian Roberts did force a scrambling stop from Barnet keeper Lee Harrison with a fiercely-struck 30-yard effort. But after an otherwise instantly forgettable first 35 minutes, the two sides finally remembered they were in the entertainment business. First Paul Buckle's volley from a John Cornforth free-kick was charged down on the edge of the Barnet box, then the swiftest of breakaways ended with a smart near-post stop by Arjan Van Heusden from Mark Gower. Grecians centre-back Neil Whitworth bravely charged down an opportunist Cottee effort from the resulting Darren Currie corner. And not to be outdone, City set off back towards St James's Road with Roberts only just failing to feed the ball into the path of Buckle. The Bees enjoyed their brightest spell of the night just after the interval, Cottee failing to connect with a Sam Stockley cross and Whitworth slightly fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for a lunge on the former England hitman. And the visitors fashioned their clearest chance on 55 minutes, Currie cutting in and drilling his shot past Van Heusden. But by then the cavalry had arrived in the shape of Barnet old boy Jamie Campbell, who nodded the ball off the line and away to safety. Blake was forced into a change when Mark Rawlinson hobbled off with a nasty knock to his ankle. With almost his first kick of the game, Inglethorpe exploded onto a neat Roberts pass before clipping the ball wide of both keeper and post. And in the final 10 minutes both sides starting throwing caution to the winds in search of the winner. Whitworth glanced just wide from an Andy Roscoe free kick, Cottee was unable to make the most of a pair of inviting openings and Inglethorpe screwed the ball past the post. Then City bagged all three precious points when Roscoe hooked a cross back from the by-line towards the head of Buckle. Inglethorpe swivelled beautifully before lashing his volley into the top Ellen
A Van Heusden, N Whitworth, J Campbell, G Power, M Rawlinson, A Roscoe, J Cornforth, K Ampadu, P Buckle, C Roberts, S Flack.
Substitutes: S Fraser, G Tomlinson, A Inglethorpe (for Rawlinson, 59), L Zabek (Cornforth, 46), N Blake.
L Harrison, S Stockley, M Arber, L Flynn, D Brown, W Goodhind, S Niven, M Gower, D Currie, T Richards, T Cottee. Substitutes: B Bossu, L Gledhill, G Heald, L Bell, B Strevens (Cottee, 85).
Alex Inglethorpe 90 (1-0)
Whitworth (Exeter), Richards (Barnet)
SHOTS ON TARGET:
Exeter 2, Barnet 4
Exeter 1, Barnet 5
Exeter 13, Barnet 12
Exeter 3, Barnet 3
REFEREE: David Pugh (Wirral)