O'Flynn has Grecians celebrating with dramatic stoppage-time winner
THERE are few moments in football that generate the kind of emotion supporters feel at a stoppage time winner.
Little wonder, then, that the Exeter City end resembled an Ibizan nightclub dance floor when John O'Flynn glanced a terrific header into the net to claim a brilliant 2-1 League Two win for the Grecians at Northampton Town on Saturday.
The game, largely dominated by Northampton but crucially even in terms of score, appeared to be heading for a draw as it entered the final of three minutes' stoppage time.
Arron Davies received the ball on the right and launched a lovely cross-field pass to David Wheeler. He took a touch and looked up to see what was on. Wheeler then delivered the perfect cross for the onrushing O'Flynn to charge into the penalty box and, without breaking his stride, glance a splendid header into the far corner to trigger the ecstatic scenes in the stand behind the goal.
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It was too late in the day for Northampton to do anything about it. The final whistle blew moments later and the players joined in the celebrations. Northampton trudged off cursing their inability to kill off City in an opening half of sheer physical brutality that the Grecians only just repelled.
Right from kick-off, Northampton laid siege to the Exeter goal with an aerial assault not seen by an Exonian since Devon's capital town suffered extensive damage by the German Luftwaffe during the second World War. Crosses rained in from either flank like bombs, especially from the Grecians' left, where former City full-back Kevin Amankwaah and popular loanee Chris Hackett combined with real purpose and intent.
Poor Craig Woodman found himself so isolated at times, it was hard not to have some sympathy for him. But he stuck to his job manfully, despite picking up a yellow card for his efforts for a shove on Hackett.
Time and again Northampton delivered balls from that side, but time and again, the burly Clive Platt and his strike partner Jacob Blyth – a 21-year-old, 6ft-plus man mountain on loan from Leicester City – fluffed their lines.
The one time they did breach the Exeter back-line was on seven minutes when a long goal-kick was flicked on twice and found Blyth racing through on goal. He slipped the ball past Artur Krysiak and into the net and at the time, you feared the writing was on the wall for City.
Blyth could easily have had a hat-trick by half-time. The best of his chances was when he shrugged off Bennett and with only Krysiak to beat, he knocked the ball wide of the far post. Platt also went close and saw a shot come back off the crossbar after holding off Bennett, who was no match physically for these two brutes up front.
Crucially, though, City hung in there. There was no collapse like they endured at Northampton last year where one goal soon became two and eventually three in what was ultimately a heavy-looking 0-3 defeat, even if the Grecians had played OK, in the main.
Saturday was different. In fact, the Grecians probably did not play as well as they had at Sixfields almost a year ago, but they had resolve. And, ten minutes before half-time, some respite came in the way of a corner.
Woodman's vicious in-swinger could not have been better. Bennett ran at the heart of goal, as the runners at the near post cleared the space. The Cornishman slid in six yards out and his outstretched boot diverted the ball into the corner of the net.
Half-time gave Exeter a chance to regroup and, although Platt missed a meat-and-drink header from six yards and was then denied by a brilliant instinctive Krysiak save with his foot, you felt something just might happen.
In the 90th minute, a lovely Wheeler pass caught the Northampton defence cold and Parkin ran through on goal. He rounded goalkeeper Matt Duke and shot goalwards. With the ball about to roll over the line, Lee Collins slid in to clear for a corner.
You felt that Exeter's chance had gone. But you also felt that a point was no bad return from the home of a side that, although they have started this campaign poorly, were play-off finalists in League Two last season.
But as those inside Sixfields began to put their jackets on and head for the exits, there was one last dramatic twist to the tale as O'Flynn struck his third goal of the campaign to spark those wild scenes of celebration.