PADRAIG Amond and Exeter City were celebrating last night after a 2-1 home win over Barrow was enough to ensure one of the three automatic promotion places in League 2 with two games to spare.
Exeter did it the hard way after falling behind to bizarre early own goal credited to goalkeeper Cameron Dawson but they bounced back and goals from Kieran Phillips late in the first half and then Matt Jay with 11 minutes remaining secured them a place in League 1 next season for the first time in 10 years.
33-year-old Amond remained on the bench for the duration of last night’s game but his experience has been invaluable throughout the season, most notably when he scored a vital, last-gasp winning goal against Carlisle earlier this month. Promotion has been a long-held ambition for Amond after suffering play-off semi-final heartbreak with his parent club Newport County in 2019 and then in the play-off final itself last year.
Amond has spent this season on loan at Exeter and with his Newport contract due to expire at the end of this season it remains to be seen where he will be playing his football next season.
Before attention turns to that, though, there is still time to add a cherry to Exeter’s cake. Promotion was their number one aim from the start of the season but now that has been secured they could yet add the significant bonus of a league title.
It had looked like Forest Green Rovers had built an unassailable lead at the top of the table but they have stuttered somewhat in the last month and have taken just five points from their last five games. That has opened the door for Exeter and the teams are now tied at the top of the table, although Rovers do have an eight goal advantage on goal difference.
Exeter also have a tough finish to the season, away to Northampton on Saturday and then home to Port Vale the following week, two teams who are in a group of five separated by just three points and who are chasing the third automatic promotion place, but there could yet be reason for more celebrations to come.
Don’t miss Padraig Amond’s column, every week in The Nationalist.