One-time Exeter conqueror hoping for a Pompey double

Ryan Bird celebrates scoring his first goal against Exeter City at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ryan Bird celebrates scoring his first goal against Exeter City at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

He was the Fratton Park goal-scoring hero in the previous encounter with Exeter.

Now Ryan Bird will be watching from afar as Pompey seek to make it a Grecians double – boosting their survival hopes in the process.

The 26-year-old started his first-ever Football League match on November 2, when Paul Tisdale’s side visited Fratton Park.

He responded with two headed goals in front of the Fratton End, adding to Ricky Holmes’ fortunate wind-assisted opener.

Guy Whittingham’s men were cruising at 3-0, but Danny Coles and John O’Flynn both struck to set up a nail-biting late finale.

Pompey have won only two matches following that triumph, while both Bird and Holmes have not netted for the Blues since.

These days, the former Burnham striker is currently on-loan at Cambridge United, where he scored twice on his debut.

The U’s are without a game this weekend and Bird will be looking out for how his parent club fares in a crucial match against a team sitting just two points above.

‘That Exeter game was the best moment of my career so far,’ said Barker.

‘It wasn’t just scoring two goals in front of the Fratton End, it was the fact we also won the match.

‘I’ve still got the DVD of the goals – along with the Torquay one the game before.

‘It seems like ages ago now but I can remember there were gale-force winds. It was ridiculous.

‘My first goal was a bit lucky when the ball bounced over the keeper, after I got a header to Yassin Moutaouakil’s cross from the right.

‘The second was decent – a bullet header from Andy Barcham’s cross from the left. So 
there we were 3-0 up and Exeter started launching it into the box. The wind was blowing it everywhere and we found it really tough.

‘We were clinging on at the end there but it was a great atmosphere – at full-time the fans went mad. It was a fantastic experience for me.

‘Now it’s a bit of a relegation battle for the club and they are so hard to get out of sometimes.

‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw Torquay had won at Fratton Park against us last weekend.

‘I had us down for a two or three-nil win.

‘Hopefully it can be turned around at Exeter this weekend.

‘We’ve got some really good players and they will be doing everything to put it right.’

Exeter are currently 16th in League Two, having won just one of their past eight matches and losing five of them.