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16:09 1th November 2010

Swindon Town 1 Exeter City 1

A brave Exeter City were denied three valuable points by a 94th minute equaliser at The County Ground.

James Dunne fired the Grecians into a first half lead with a very well worked goal and they held out superbly against a Swindon onslaught in the second half.

And just as it seemed they would pick up three points Jon-Paul McGovern's cross into the box took a touch off Vincent Pericard and the goal-bound effort was chested over the line by Matt Taylor.

Having finished their last League One match just over 48 hours earlier Paul Tisdale decided to make changes and freshen things up in the final third with Ryan Taylor making his first start for the club alongside returning Robin Barry Corr.

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But it was the Swindon frontline who carved out the first real chance on seven minutes, Danny Ward slipped while hitting a low shot that cracked off Paul Jones' post. It was the closest Jonesy had come to conceding since Julian Gray scored for Walsall back in March.

At the other end Ryan Harley's volley flew over the bar before Scott Golbourne started a fine move with a lovely pirouette which ended in Steve Tully's cross being hammered out. The home side then began to increase the pressure on the five man City backline, Jonathan Douglas firing over and League One hotshot Billy Paynter being denied by a smart save from Jones.

Ryan Taylor had a hugely impressive full debut for the Grecians and he found himself unmarked from Golbourne's cross but the ball seemed to hit his standing leg as he swung back to shoot. Liam Sercombe then had two half-chances, first his low shot went wide before he headed over Ryan Taylor's cross after setting the Rotherham loanee free.

Then on the 40 minute mark the breakthrough came and what a goal for the viewers at home to enjoy. George Friend's right-footed pass sent Ryan Taylor scampering down the wing and his low pullback found Dunne. The former Arsenal man showed fantastic composure to take a touch before sending a low shot into the corner and sparking wild celebrations amongst the 594 travelling supporters.

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The banner taken by City fans to the game last night

And City still had to show plenty of resilience to hold onto their lead in the five minutes that followed, first Jones saved from Ward and then Scott Cuthburt headed over and on the stroke of half-time City's number 27 had to be at his best again to deny former Leeds man Jonathan Douglas as he met a free-kick with a powerful header.

There ended a very well organised, structured and impressive first half by Tisdale's side. The second period started with a bang, Ryan Taylor almost doubling our lead after meeting Harley's cross from the left flank and a minute later Gordon Greer had to hack away Golbourne's dangerous ball after Ryan Taylor's pass.

Ryan's namesake Matt Taylor was once again putting in an exceptional display. The City captain is quickly becoming a genuine legend at the club with some real old-school defensive displays and he put in two vital headers to extinguish a Swindon attack.

Paynter then came very close to equalising when his header from McGovern's cross skimmed the crossbar in front of the home fans.

Richard Duffy put in a vital block before Matt Taylor headed Simon Ferry's bullet of a right-foot shot off the line at the far post as the ball looked destined for the back of the net.

The Swindon attack was forcing the Grecians deeper into their half but the defence was once again proving just how good they are with blocks, tackles, interceptions and some real backs against the wall stuff.

Corr was then withdrawn for Marcus Stewart and City switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Ryan Taylor running his heart out upfront and Duffy sitting infront of a back four.

Jones was having one of those nights where he saves everything thrown at him and on 67 minutes he tipped an effort wide that some of the home fans seemed to think was already in, Paynter being denied this time.

Joe Burnell was then introduced for Dunne on the 75 minute mark while Danny Wilson put on another striker in search of a win to take them second in League One. Paynter had another effort and Charlie Austin shot wide as the clock ticked down and the entire City team continued to throw their bodies on the line for the cause.

Any fingernails the away fans may have had were slowly disappearing as Swindon chucked more and more crosses into the box and City were repelling wave after wave of attacks.
Richard Logan was then introduced for the exhausted Ryan Taylor as Tisdale looked to hang on.

And with just one minute left of the five added on, a cruel cruel blow for City as Taylor tried to chest a goal-bound effort over the bar after the ball had pinged around the penalty box. It was a real sucker punch but despite the agony of a late equaliser this was another valuable point, and the third 1-1 draw of the season played out between the two sides, against a high quality outfit.

There were some huge performances, not least from both Taylors and Jones and in truth every player played their part in a valiant performance to make it nine unbeaten. George Friend must be wondering what all the talk of relegation was about, City are let to lose since the Wolves loanee rejoined the club. There was so much heart and desire from the players and it made you very proud to be in with the hugely vocal Grecian following.

The long trip to Tranmere awaits on Saturday and Tisdale has an extra day to rest those weary legs but if City maintain this level of performance in the last four games then League One football should be secured for another season.

Pete Evans

    Data provided by Press Association