Mumba's Exeter Reaction
When Bali Mumba received the ball, 30 or more yards from goal, with Argyle 2-1 down against Exeter City, there was an audible cry of ‘shoot’ inside Home Park.
But it only takes a few hundred of the 16,000+ to make that noise. One feels that plenty more people were thinking that Mumba would be best to take the ball closer, or look to pass the ball wide to create a better position for a telling cross.
Fortunately, Bali had just one thing in mind, and was to shoot through a crowded penalty area and into the corner, to level the game for Argyle. He did just that.
Earlier, Morgan Whittaker had equalised swiftly as Exeter had gone ahead and Bali’s goal on 58 minutes came just six minutes after City had gone in front for a second time. Shortly after the game went to 2-2, Ryan Hardie was brought on as a substitute, and would score twice to complete a memorable victory for Argyle.
Mumba’s goal is certain to live long in the memory. It was his third goal of the season, his second at Home Park and the second time in two televised fixtures this year that the on-loan wing-back has got on the scoresheet in spectacular style, following his goal in the 2-1 win over Ipswich Town in September.
After the game, Bali spoke exclusively to Argyle TV. He said: “A lot of people are saying I shouldn’t have shot, but as soon as Joe set it back, the only thing on my mind was to get it out of my feet and just hit it as hard as I can in the far corner. It was similar to Ipswich.
“I just took a touch and believed. I hit it with my laces, and I’m just thankful that it hit the back of the net. It was like slow motion, but seeing it hit the net I thought ‘Oh, my God!’
“The level it stayed at, because I laced it; sometimes it can go over the bar but it just stayed at the right height, and it was hard for the keeper to be at.
“Once they scored their second one there was just one thing in my mind, that was to run and attack their back three. It was ‘just get me the ball and let me have a good go, and see where it takes me.’
“[Exeter’s second goal] gave us the urgency to pick the tempo up. It paid off. We didn’t stop believing. Our attitude was top. Everyone gave everything for the badge. We’re glad to put smiles on everyone’s faces.”
The game was 21-year-old Bali’s first experience of a derby encounter, and what a place to start, not only in a come-from-behind win against local rivals, but to cement Argyle’s position on the summit of Sky Bet League One and to establish a club record of nine consecutive home wins, the first time in Argyle’s history such a feat has been completed.
“This is my first proper professional derby,” said a beaming Bali. “It was incredible. I want more days like this, to experience what I experienced today, with the atmosphere and the noise.
“I didn’t know it was a club record, but now that I have found out it is just another good thing to smile about. It shows the form we are on, the team spirit. Hopefully we keep going with the same momentum, attitude and belief. Every game, treat it the same, and fingers crossed things will go well for us.
“I just wanted to get the three points, no matter how scrappy it got.
“I can’t really explain it, everyone saw for themselves: the fans, the atmosphere, just a great night. To get the win and stay top of the league is an even better feeling.”