Should Bari taste promotion to the top-flight in May, fewer results may look as signficant as this evening's 2-0 victory over a Cesena side hithero formidable at home.
The result, manufactured by goals either side of half-time from Guiseppe De Luca and Riccardo Maniero, moves the Galletti level on points with second-placed Crotone and, more importantly, just four points adrift of pace-setters Cagliari.
A sluggish opening
Boasting perhaps Serie B’s brightest prospect, Stefano Sensi, Bari’s visit to the Stadio Dino Manuzzi invariably attracted the watching eyes of the peninsula with Milan and Juventus reportedly lurking.
The game began in keeping with its pre-match billings as the hosts’ went close inside three minutes when Antonio Mazzotta delivered a tantalising centre into the penalty area with Davide Succi unmarked. But the forward failed make a connection and the visitors, having had a penalty appealed waved away down the other end, survived.
Bari began to get a foothold on proceedings as Cristiano Del Grosso headed wide at the near post from an expertly worked set-piece.
Penalty cries surrounded the headline act he went tumbling to the floor after being seemingly stymied by Francesco Valiani inside the penalty area.
Cesena controlled the lion’s share of possession during the opening exchanges but, aside from a fleeting moment of anticipation when Antonino Ragusa floated a menacing corner into the box, were failing in their attempts to carve out clear-cut chances.
Mazzotta, though, was showing promise down the left-hand side and it was the full-back’s cross that fell invitingly to Moussa Kone at the far stick but the midfielder could only divert his effort into the ground.
Camillo Ciano’s fleet-footedness was proving a handful for the Bari midfield and the 25-year-old unleashed a dipping effort towards Enrico Guarna's goal on 27 minutes.
Ciano then found himself liberated down the right but he was quickly foiled by the Bari rearguard. The home faction’s grumbles began to amplify.
Their disgruntlement showed no signs of ebbing as the visitors, their forays hitherto rare, fashioned perhaps the two best chances of the half. Valiani rattled an effort off the crossbar after a sumptuous threaded pass from Fillipo Porcari before, after Sensi was pilfered in possession in midfield, Bari broke swiftly and Alessandro Rosina, in acres of space to pick his spot, curled his effort wide of the far post.
Riccardo Maniero, who perhaps embodied the away side’s reticence during the opening period, then prompted fingertips from the Cesena No.1 with a rasping effort from the edge of the area. Bari, clearly, were in the ascendancy.
Galletti exploit hosts mistakes
Their superiority was underlined minutes later when Rosina atoned for his earlier miss by delivering a pinpoint centre onto the forehead of Guiseppe De Luca, springing the offside trap, who nodded Bari infront minutes before the interval.
The away side ruefully punished the Seahorses’ for their complacency during the opening 45 minutes and they threatened to do so after the interval.
Profiting from a stray pass down the left, Del Grosso fizzed a lovely centre into De Luca who provided the deftest of faints to free Maniero whose shot bobbled onto the top of the crossbar.
But his endeavour would be rewarded on the hour mark when he rose highest from Rosina corner to power his header past an outstretched Gomis. The Seahorses were staring down the barrel of a second straight league defeat.
Massimo Drago sent for Salvatore Molina as his side chased a goal but it was Ciano who was left pale-faced when he squandered a golden opportunity at the far stick. Substitute Francesco Renzetti clipped a delightful cross to the far post but the forward’s header blazed over the crossbar.
De Luca was presented with an opportunity to kill the tie off when the visitors broke swiftly and released the goalscorer down the left. Lucchini, though, done well to narrow the angle and force Gomis into a comfortable stop.
Drago must have been struck by a lingering sense of deja vu when his side surrendered possession yet again in midfield and were forced to watch the Galletti surge forward with intent. De Luca drifted into a promising position on the left but the pint-sized forward fluffed his lines for not the first time on the evening.
However, Cesena, to give them their due, were threatening down the right and, on another night, the Seahorses’ could have staged a comeback.
But their late efforts were in vain as Bari departured the Manuzzi four points adrift of Cagliari atop Serie B.