28 March 2023

Gary Caldwell full of praise for Exeter battlers after beating in-form Barnsley

28 March 2023

Exeter City manager Gary Caldwell hailed a team effort as his side ended Barnsley’s 12-match unbeaten run with an emphatic 3-1 win at St James Park.

Jay Stansfield’s stunning solo goal put the Grecians in front, only for Bobby Thomas to level before half-time, but City stepped up a gear after the break and won with a goal from Harry Kite and Sam Nombe’s penalty.

“It was an amazing night under the lights, SJP was rocking and I felt it was a proper football game,” Caldwell said.

“It was two good teams not giving anything to each other, a real 50-50 game of football and I said at half-time the margins here are going to be really small and we have to be at our very best to win, and I thought we were.

“It wasn’t the free-flowing football that we have seen in recent games, but to be the team we want to be, we have to win in different ways and when a team that’s going for promotion unbeaten in 12 games comes here and we stand up to them the way we did and we cause them problems in the way we did, I cannot be any prouder of the players. They deserve everything they got tonight.

“Barnsley are flying. They are going for promotion and came here with great confidence and form and we had a clear plan to play against them.

“We carried that plan out and knew we would have to defend at times, it’s what you have to do against top teams in this league, but when we got our opportunities, we were ruthless and punished them and could have scored more with the chances we created.

“The players were outstanding, every single one of them – the finishers that came on, the starters and even the bench at the end – it was a proper team effort and that’s what it takes to win big games.”

Barnsley boss Michael Duff said: “We weren’t at it tonight. We played some nice football but not effective football.

“We didn’t win enough first contacts. They did to us what we have done to other teams recently.

“It is a marker that shows how far we have come that you see their reactions at the end of the game. We have been absolutely magnificent, but tonight too many individuals didn’t turn up.

“We made too many individual mistakes, too many sideways and backwards passes without really hurting them and then no real quality in the final third.

“I have got no complaints with the result, but disappointed for everyone that has travelled down here as it is a long way.

“I need to see the game back again before I dissect it, but we didn’t make enough good decisions without the ball and no real intensity about what we did.”

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