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11:41 11th April 2010

Exeter City 0 Leyton Orient 0

So on a warm and sunny afternoon at the Park, 5522 supporters see City move a point closer to safety in a lifeless 0-0 draw where neither keeper had a save to make all afternoon. City lined up: Jones; Golbourne, Friend, Taylor, Duffy, Tully; Dunne, Harley, Sercombe; Stewart, Fleetwood.

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It was City who enjoyed the lion's share of possession during the opening exchanges, and City who created the better of the chances, but the shape of things to come was shown in the fourth minute when Harley broke down the left, played a neat one-two with Stewart in the box then cut the ball back from the near post for either Stewart or Sercombe to convert. Neither did, a defender saw the danger and got there first to boot the ball clear.

A minute later City looked to have a strong case for handball when Sercombe released Tully down the right who in turn sent Fleetwood racing towards the byline. Fleetwood crossed but the ball appeared to strike the forearm of O's central defender Tamika Mkandawire inside the penalty area. City and the crowd appealed, but the ref was having none of it and it was play on instead.

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In the eighth minute Dunne, with his back to goal, played Fleetwood in with a superb defence splitter round the corner, but Fleetwood's run and cross was easily cut out by the keeper at the near post. Then ten minutes later Tully, Dunne and Fleetwood played a lovely triangle in the box before the ball was crossed in towards the far post, but with Stewart looking interested the ball was cleared for a corner before he could finish the move off.

And so for the majority of the remainder of the half the pattern was set: City would work the ball down the channels and cross to the tiniest bloke in the team - meat and drink for the Orient defenders, or Orient would hoof it down the middle for James Scowcroft to chase - meat and drink for the City defenders.

But right at the end of the half City had a couple of near misses. First Tully's good looking run and cross found Fleetwood's head where his flick to the far post glanced off a defender's head and onto the Big Bank, then second Stewart dinked the ball on to Fleetwood from the corner of the box but as Fleetwood looked to pounce the ball was deflected behind him before being eventually cleared.

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The second half continued in much the same vein with little action in front of goal. Tully livened up proceedings in the 15th minute with a determined burst into the box riding a couple of tackles along the way before spoiling it all somewhat by blasting high over the O's fans behind the goal and somewhere down St James Road.

Five minutes later Fleetwood earned himself a free kick for obstruction on the edge of the 'D', but Harley followed Tully's lead in wastefully crashing the ball way over the bar.

Two minutes later Tisdale made the double substitution of Ryan Taylor for his St James Park debut and Corr for Fleetwood and Dunne, with Stewart sitting behind the two strikers in a sort of 5-2-1-2 formation. It made little difference to how the game progressed, with final action of note coming fully fifteen minutes before the final whistle. Sercombe's delicious raking cross field pass found Golbourne racing down the left. He played it in to Stewart who knocked it into the box where Ryan Taylor glanced a good looking header fractionally over.

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But in the end, with the majority of other results going their way - including Stockport becoming the first team in the division to be relegated this season - it was a point gained as City moved four points away from danger. It also keeps their impressive recent run of results going and stretches it to eight games, meaning the last time City tasted defeat was at Brighton back at the end of February.

And it is that that City will take to the County Ground on Monday night for the live televised clash with Swindon. That and the fact that for large dollops of the game today City retained possession rather comfortably and at times passed it around quite sweetly. Plus for good measure they matched a giant Orient team physically too.

As for the players Jones had one of his easiest afternoons with the trickiest challenges coming from back passes, although there might be injury concerns with Marriott warming up in the second half just in case and Jones electing to throw the ball out rather than kicking it at every opportunity.

In front of him as usual Matt Taylor was imperious, heading away Eric Lechaj's long throws as though it were merely a training exercise. Friend and Duffy were comfortable too, with Duffy fast turning into a genuine Player of the Season candidate. Out wide Golbourne and Tully bombed up and down the wings, but unfortunately to no avail as there was usually only Fleetwood in the box with fellow striker Stewart playing deeper.

Dunne and Sercombe continue to form what looks to be a promising partnership in the middle of the Park, and continue to give Harley the time and space - too much time at times today - to work his magic.

The two substitutes were lively too, and at last provided something of a target up front, Ryan Taylor enjoying a decent half a half showing there's plenty there to work with.

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But overall City will have to play a lot better on Monday if they're to get anything from the Swindon game, and especially will need to get someone in the box to convert the crosses that were easily cleared today. Swindon are in with a realistic chance of automatic promotion, so a toothless performance like today's is unlikely to earn either plaudits or points, but if they can play as they did a week earlier against Colchester then they'll give themselves a much better chance.

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We're on a run however, and digging out results, so we can go there with confidence before the final four massive games of the season: away at Tranmere, home to Charlton, away to Hartlepool then finally home to Huddersfield. Tricky games all, but in the form we're in winnable all too.

Speaking of winnable fights, I'd like to end up with a word for Adam Stansfield, diagnosed this week with bowel cancer. We're with you all the way Stanno, get well soon, get that famous number nine shirt back on and get back to banging in League One goals for Exeter City. It's what you do best and it's what City fans the world over want to see you doing as soon as possible. Good luck to you and your family Adam, we're all behind you and we wish you all the best.

    Data provided by Press Association