Barnsley’s four-match winning run came to an end as they produced a very poor performance in a 2-0 home loss to Exeter City.

The visitors netted very early in both halves and were the deserved winners as the Reds’ display was easily one of their worst of the season.

The Reds remain fifth with 20 points from 12 games.

Luke Thomas dropped out of the squad with injury and was replaced in the 11 by Jack Aitchison.

The visitors scored after 35 seconds when striker Jay Stansfield found the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.

James Norwood could have levelled in the third minute but he headed wide from eight yards out unmarked after meeting a cross by Aitchison.

But Barnsley were generally poor in the first half as, although they created chances, they lacked energy and intensity.

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Norwood had a half-chance in the 20th minute when Nicky Cadden’s left-wing cross, which went just over Devante Cole’s head, hit the striker seven yards out and drifted wide of the left post.

Mads Andersen headed a Cadden corner over eight yards out then, seconds later, Liam Kitching’s long-range shot was spilled by goalkeeper Jamal Blackman who gathered at the feet of Cole.

Norwood was taken off after 37 minutes for Adam Phillips, who took one of the number ten roles behind Cole along with Aitchison.

Jake Caprice could have made it 2-0 when he was played in by a good move on the right but curled across goal and wide.

Cole tackled ‘keeper Jamal Blackman in his six-yard box but the stopper managed to get a block in to avoid what looked a certain goal.

Exeter’s Sam Nombe headed a right-wing free-kick well wide on the stroke of half-time.

Tom Edwards came on for Jordan Williams at the interval.

Early in the second half, Cole robbed a defender on the left of the box but shot high and wide while off balance 12 yards out.

Seconds later it was 2-0 as Nombe ran very easily down the right wing and crossed low for Stansfield who was in yards out of space almost on the line to tap in.

Jevani Brown almost made it 3-0 soon after when, following another good move on the right, he shot wide across the goal 12 yards out.

At the other end, Cadden saw a curling effort from just outside the box well tipped over by Blackman who then made a far easier save to catch an effort from further out by substitute Josh Martin.

Aitchison missed a big chance in the 80th minute when he blazed over ten yards out after Cundy flicked on an Edwards throw.

Exeter substitute Harry Smith should have made it 3-0 when he was played clean through but fired wide of the bottom right corner.

Barnsley (3-4-1-2): Collins; Cundy, Andersen, Kitching; Williams (Edwards HT), Kane (Martin 62mins), Benson (Connell 70), Cadden (Larkeche 62); Aitchison, Norwood (Phillips 37), Cole.

Unused: Walton, Tedic.

Exeter (3-4-1-2): Blackman; Key, Sweeney, Hartridge; Caprice, Harper, Collins, Sparkes; Brown (Cox 90+2); Nombe, Stansfield (Smith 70).

Unused: Brown, James, King, Chauke.

Yellow cards: Brown.

Goals: Stansfield 1, 48.

AS IT HAPPENED
  • 1:42pm
    Good afternoon and welcome to the Chronicle’s coverage of Barnsley’s home game with Exeter City from 3pm.
  • 1:59pm
    Barnsley: Collins; Cundy, Andersen, Kitching; Williams, Kane, Benson, Cadden; Aitchison, Norwood, Cole. Subs: Walton, Edwards, Martin, Zarkeche, Phillips, Tedic, Connell.
  • 2:02pm
    Luke Thomas drops out of the squad with injury and is replaced in the 11 by Jack Aitchison.
  • 2:05pm
    Exeter: Blackman; Key, Sweeney, Hartridge; Caprice, Harper, Collins, Sparkes; Brown, Nombe, Stansfield. Subs: Brown, James, King, Chauke, Cox, Smith.
  • 2:10pm
    The Reds are unbeaten in six in all competitions, winning their last four including at Fleetwood Town last Saturday thanks to Jack Aitchison’s 90th-minute goal.
  • 2:10pm
    That put them fifth in the table with 20 points from 11 games
  • 2:12pm
    Exeter, who came up last season from League Two, are 11th in the table with 15 points.
  • 2:13pm
    Matt Taylor – who had won the most games of any manager against Duff – left the Devon club after four years in charge for Barnsley’s near neighbours Rotherham United on Tuesday.
  • 2:25pm
    They have Kevin Nicholson – the former Sheffield Wednesday player and Torquay United manager – in caretaker charge.
  • 2:25pm
    Head coach Duff told the Chronicle: “We just plan for what we think we’re going to come up against. Whether they are good bad or indifferent we will only know when the ref blows his whistle.
  • 2:36pm
    “We will prepare for what I know about them, the players I know about and what we’ve seen in previous games. Matt did a very good job and I don’t see them going away from what’s been successful for them. If I’m wrong we will change it at five past three.
  • 2:36pm
    “I need to make sure they are not more motivated than us just because their manager has left. We are at home and we have an opportunity to put another three points on the board.”
  • 2:37pm
    Exeter followed up a 4-0 win at Forest Green Rovers with a 2-2 at home to Bristol Rovers, who netted in injury-time.
  • 2:39pm
    We understand Luke Thomas has suffered a serious leg injury but will find out more later
  • 2:40pm
    None of their 11 league games so far this season have been against any of the current top eight.
  • 2:41pm
    They won 7-0 at Duff’s former club Cheltenham in the EFL Cup earlier in the season.
  • 2:42pm
    Duff said: “Exeter aren’t afraid to get in behind you. They put you under pressure, put balls in the box and keep the ball in the top third. They have had a good start to the season.”
  • 2:45pm
    Exeter’s Jevani Brown has the second most goals in the league and most assists while Sam Nombe has also been a regular scorer.
  • 2:46pm
    “They have a lot of goals between them. I know Jevani well. I tried to sign him when he was at Colchester. They have been successful, scored a lot of goals and beaten some good teams.”
  • 2:50pm
    Taylor brought through several academy players, from the Devon area, into the first team during his four years in charge. Duff said: “It’s a well-run club. People up here might not know about it. It’s a fan-run club. They have produced loads of players. Ollie Watkins (England international striker) went to Aston Villa and they have had massive kickbacks from that.
  • 2:54pm
    “They have always produced young players over the last ten or 15 years. The fact that they have been promoted and seem comfortable at the level is great for them and the area isn’t a densely-populated area.”
  • 2:55pm
    Barnsley defender Robbie Cundy was loaned to Exeter by Bristol City in 2019 but did not play while striker James Norwood played four games during a two-year spell with the Devon club more than a decade ago.
  • 2:56pm
    Barnsley played Exeter 20 times between 1964 and 1981, winning seven and losing nine.
  • 2:59pm
    The last meetings were in the 1980/81 season when Norman Hunter’s promotion-bound Reds won both games 1-0.
  • 2:59pm
    Exeter have visited Oakwell ten times, losing five, drawing four and winning 4-3 in May 1977 having been 3-0 down.
  • 3:01pm
    GAME UNDERWAY
  • 3:03pm
    GOAL!
    Jay Stansfield after 35 seconds
  • 3:04pm
    Exeter break straight up the pitch and their striker finds the bottom corner from just outside the box
  • 3:04pm
    Wow
  • 3:04pm
    3 Good chance for Reds to level. Aitchison crosses from the right and the unmarked Norwood heads well wide about ten yards out
  • 3:06pm
    Aitchison win a corner on the right after a. good run by Williams
  • 3:06pm
    5 Right wing corner by Cadden. Played short and this cross is easily cleared
  • 3:09pm
    Obviously that first minute goal has dampened the atmosphere a bit here but the Reds. have responded fairly well on the pitch. They look positive
  • 3:10pm
    9 Jake Caprice's cross is turned behind by Cundy and it's a corner on the right
  • 3:11pm
    10 Right wing corner headed out by Benson who also blocks the follow up
  • 3:13pm
    Barnsley clearly trying to pass the ball forward. quickly when they get it but haven't got anyone in behind yet
  • 3:13pm
    12 Another Exeter corner on the right as Kitching tackles Stansfield
  • 3:14pm
    13 Corner played short, good cross, headed behind by Cundy for another corner on the left
  • 3:14pm
    13 Left wing corner punched out by Collins
  • 3:17pm
    The game has gone pretty flat now after Barnsley pushed for an immediate leveller
  • 3:21pm
    20 Half chance for the Reds. After a nice move, Cadden swings in a decent cross from the left which goes just over Cole's head then hits Norwood at the back post and floats wide
  • 3:22pm
    21 Caprice gets in a good position on the right of the home box and. is powerful low cross is fumbled by Collins then hooked clear
  • 3:27pm
    Another flat period. Exeter will be happy for the game to drift. Barnsley lacking energy and intensity
  • 3:29pm
    28 Cole wins a corner on the left
  • 3:30pm
    29 Cadden corner from the left. Headed over by Andersen eight yards out. Good chance but had to stoop and maybe saw it late
  • 3:32pm
    30 Kitching shoots from about 30 yards. Blackman dives to his. left and. parries then gets there to gather it just before Cole. Barnsley look better
  • 3:36pm
    Barnsley's passing has been off it today. Norwood just gave Exeter the ball. in his own half then,. after Barnsley got the ball, Benson spooned it forward to no one
  • 3:39pm
    Adam Phillips is coming on for Norwood
  • 3:40pm
    39 Big chance for 2-0. A good move puts Caprice in the on the right of the box and he curls across the goal but wide
  • 3:42pm
    40 Chance for Barnsley Cole wins ball and Aitchison plays in Phillips but defender. blocks well
  • 3:44pm
    Cole tackles the goalkeeper Blackman who just gets away with it but blocking the close range shot o n the right of the six yard box.
  • 3:46pm
    Three added minutes in this half
  • 3:49pm
    Barnsley have probably had the better chances overall but they have looked a bit flat and lethargic
  • 3:50pm
    45+2 Nombe heads a right wing free-kick well wide
  • 3:50pm
    HALF-TIME: Exeter. 0, Barnsley 1.
  • 4:06pm
    SECOND HALF UNDERWAY
  • 4:07pm
    Tom Edwards is on for Jordan Williams
  • 4:08pm
    47 Cole cuts past a defender on the left of the boxout screws a 12 yard shot high and wide while off balance
  • 4:09pm
    GOAL!
    Jay Stansfield doubles the lead
  • 4:11pm
    So easy for Nombe to run down Barnsley's left then his low cross is to the totally unmarked Stansfield who has yards of space pretty much on the line and taps in. Cole had just missed a big chance at the other end
  • 4:11pm
    Disastrous start for the Reds to both halves
  • 4:16pm
    Chance for 3-0. Another move down the right ends with Jevani Brown shooting wide from about ten yards out
  • 4:18pm
    Another aimless forward pass to no one by Benson who has not looked his normal self today
  • 4:20pm
    Nombe pressures Collins into conceding a corner
  • 4:22pm
    Good effort by Cadden just outside the. box, goalkeeper tips over
  • 4:24pm
    Larkeche and Martin coming on for Cadden and Kane
  • 4:26pm
    Barnsley have been a bit better in the last five to ten minutes, having most of the ball but not creating a big chance
  • 4:29pm
    66 Edwards shoots well over from about 25 yards out
  • 4:32pm
    Connell on for Benson, who has had probably his worst game of a very good season
  • 4:33pm
    72 Larkeche wins a corner on the left
  • 4:34pm
    Connell's corner is poor and headed out
  • 4:35pm
    So far this is probably the worst performance of the season. it will raise questions over Barnsley's play-off credentials but they have some credit in the bank for good run leading into this game
  • 4:36pm
    74 Exeter break and Larkeche makes a vital interception to stop an away player going through on goal
  • 4:38pm
    77 Martin cuts in from the left and shoots. from about 30 yards. It is straight at Blackman who catches
  • 4:40pm
    Larkeche down with a head injury. He gets to his feet
  • 4:42pm
    80 Edwards throw, flicked on by Cundy, Aitchison takes a touch but blazes over ten yards out. Big chance
  • 4:44pm
    82 Kitching charges forward but shoots over the bar from just outside the box
  • 4:47pm
    85 Exeter sub Harry Smith now fires a powerful shot over the bar from just outside the box
  • 4:48pm
    86 Huge chance for Exeter's Smith as he is played clean through but fires wide of the bottom left corner
  • 4:50pm
    YELLOW CARD
    Jevani Brown booked for pulling back Edwards
  • 4:52pm
    Four added minutes
  • 4:56pm
    FULL-TIME: Barnsley 0, Exeter 2. A very poor performance by the Reds