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10:27 20th August 2001

Halifax Town v Exeter City

(Report by David West, Western Morning News)

Noel Blake left West Yorkshire a contented man after his determined Exeter side earned their first point of the new season. "I was satisfied and encouraged by our performance," said Blake.

City were desperate to avoid a repeat of their opening day home defeat by promotion favourites Hull last week. Blake reverted to a 5-3-2 formation in a side showing four changes.

Blake was rewarded with a disciplined defensive performance under extreme pressure form their hosts.

The Grecians scored with the first attack of the game and their only shot on target all afternoon when former Leeds United defender Dylan Kerr curled home a delicious 20-yard free-kick after just 61 seconds.

Goalkeeper Arjan Van Heusden's huge punt caused panic in the home defence and Andy Woodward was penalised for a foul on Richardson. Kerr stepped up and calmly stroked the ball into the top corner.

Exeter then reverted to a defensive mindset. Van Heusden did well to block with his feet from Steve Kerrigan's low drive after nine minutes, but could do little about the equaliser thirteen minutes later.

Midfielder Steve Swales seemed to be in little danger of scoring with a shot from the edge of the box, but a deflection took the ball past Van Heusden.

Kerrigan then headed into the bottom corner of the net but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Exeter's attack struggled to spring the offside trap, but when striker Sean McCarthy finally burst through on goal after a mistake by Clarke on 34 minutes he succeeded only in shooting over the crossbar.

Substitute Christian Roberts wasted the only real opening of the second half for City when he dragged wide of the post from 18 yards after 74 minutes.

But the game ended on a sour note when Whitworth was sent off for a second yellow deep into added time after bringing down Town's Mark Jules.
    Data provided by Press Association