Well, as ever the Simon Barrow Predictometer proved entirely reliable... in being wrong. Within a minute Exeter City were ahead against Stafford Rangers tonight, and despite a spell in the first half when they could create but not score, they never looked back - winding up 4-1 winners and playing some good football. It could have been 8, frankly. Stafford were defensively frail and Man of the Match Dean Moxey thoroughly deserved his hat-trick.
Then came the news that Stevenage had lost 2-1 at home to Northwich Victoria. The Grecians are now through to the promotion play-offs irrespective of the results on the final weekend of the season this Saturday. At this stage it looks likely that City's opponents in the two-leg semis will be Cambridge, with either Burton Albion (who fell apart tonight) and Torquay, also defeated this evening, in the final on 18 May. Exciting times. But there was restrained celebration at St James' Park. As manager Paul Tisdale (pictured) is bound to say: "We haven't won anything yet."
One pleasing moment was when Ishmale Reid, Rangers' best player, scored in the 90th minute with a scorching shot to the top right-hand corner of Paul Jones' net. The strike was met with generous applause from Exeter fans. Stafford are already relegated, and the supporters who followed them deep into the southwest this evening were a superb testimony to football loyalty. I'm glad this was reciprocated with a sporting gesture, albeit one not taxing for a side contemplating the possibility of a Football League place next term. Still, it's good to see a counterpoint to the unfortunate nastiness that has crept into the game in recent years. Good luck to Stafford next season. It will be tough for them, no doubt.
As a footnote, Matt Taylor was deservedly hailed Player of the Year in a short ceremony after the game. Along with Moxey he has been a tower of strength for the Grecians.