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15:03 6th April 2010

Brentford 0 Exeter City 0

Exeter City stretched their unbeaten run to seven games with a hard-fought point at Brentford.

Backed by 929 vocal away fans the Grecians were rarely tested in defence with Richard Duffy and Matt Taylor especially impressive.

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City drop one place to 17th but they are still three points clear of the relegation zone.

As the travelling fans milled into Griffin Park's two-tier away end the talk concerned the absence of Barry Corr, who failed a fitness test before the match, and the hamstrung Rob Edwards.

Stuart Fleetwood's star cameo on Friday earned him a place in the starting line-up as Corr's replacement while Scott Golbourne lined up at left wing-back with George Friend moving into central defence. Number 53 Joe Heath, who is with the club until the end of the season on a non-contract basis, was on the bench for the first time.

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City started where they left off against Colchester in an impressive opening and almost took the lead in style. Ryan Harley started and ended a move that began with a superb piece of vision from the ginger playmaker to switch play to Steve Tully and when he got the ball back via Liam Sercombe he sent in a dangerous low shot that deflected just wide.

Marcus Stewart shot over and Golbourne's left-footed cross was headed over by Fleetwood within the first five minutes as the Grecians showed their intent right from the start.

Fleetwood was looking lively and he beat two men to create an opening for himself but he couldn't get enough power to beat Arsenal youngster Wojciech Szczesny and two minutes later the Welshman shot over.

The home side's first real chance fell to Leon Legge. The centre-back, who was playing for Tonbridge Angels and working in a care home this time last season, got a strong header in that was well saved by Paul Jones.

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Brentford had another chance in the air on 22 minutes, on loan Lewis Grabban heading wide un-marked when well placed inside the box while at the other end James Dunne's volley was straight at Szczesny.

Richard Duffy put in another top quality display and he put in a superb diving block to deny Myles Weston as he went to shoot. Duffy's defensive partner Matt Taylor was also winning the battle with Charlie McDonald and showing just what an asset he is for the Grecians.

The nice surface at Griffin Park was suiting City's passing play and they strung some great moves together but it was a set-piece that almost made it 1-0, Harley sending in a lovely curling free-kick that was inches off its target.

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The first chance of the second half was also a free-kick, this time George Friend stepped up but shot wide.

Both teams were evening themselves out and neither attack were really threatening with both sides mainly restricted to half-chances. But it says a lot about the performances that City's back four have put in that they have picked up two clean sheets in a row and only conceded four goals during the unbeaten run of seven.

Slide tackles, last ditch blocks and some dominant aerial displays have been the secret behind this impressive record and we saw all three on display this afternoon.

The newest addition to that rock-solid backline is Golbourne and the former Reading man had a big chance for City on 55 minutes, Harley ran forward through the middle and slipped Golbourne through on the left-hand side but his side-footed shot was right at Szczesny.

Harley was the creator again minutes later when he stood a cross up to the far post but Fleetwood couldn't quite get over the ball for his header to really test Szczesny from inside the box.
That was Fleetwood's last real impact in the match and along with Marcus Stewart the pair made way for Richard Logan and debutant Ryan Taylor.

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Six minutes later Taylor showed good feet in the box to get a shot away but it was blocked by Legge. He was running the channels well and he was involved in another good move that ended with Liam Sercombe's long shot flying over the bar.

But after just 15 minutes Logan's hamstring meant his afternoon came to an abrupt end before he could really make an impact on the match, the fans favourite headed down the tunnel with an ice pack and Joe Burnell was introduced.

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City rearranged their line-up but were effectively playing Taylor upfront on his own as they looked for a winner. George Friend was also pushed forward and he was very close to assisting an Exeter goal on 80 minutes.

The Wolves loanee picked up the ball and ran forward before slipping a fantastic through ball into Taylor's path. The striker seemed to time his run well but as the Rotherham man rounded the keeper the linesman's flag halted the move.

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There was still time for a few Brentford attacks, their long thows in particular were proving to be their most potent attacking weapon, but they were being headed away by various members of the City side determined to keep that unbeaten run going.

This was a well-earned point against a side in equally good form and Paul Tisdale will be delighted with the way his side defended and on another day they could have snatched the three points.

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Leyton Orient come to St James Park on Saturday in another massive League One clash before the away trip to Swindon on Monday. If we are talking of unbeaten runs again come Monday night then the last few games of the season could be much easier on the blood pressure.