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11:48 17th April 2011

Exeter City 2 Leyton Orient 1

So on a warm and overcast afternoon at the Park, City secured L1 football for next season as well as inching a point closer to the play-offs with a hard fought 2-1 win over fellow chasers Leyton Orient in front of 5037 supporters. City lined up: Hamer; Golbourne, Duffy, Archibald-Henville, Tully; Dunne, Harley, Noble, Sercombe; Nardiello, Cureton.
The game got off to a rip roaring start with City pressing hard on the O's goal. Indeed, only four minutes had elapsed before Dunne hoisted a ball down the right where both Tully and Nardiello beat a poor offside trap. Nardiello took up the chase racing to the byline before drilling in a low cross to the far post where Cureton was on hand to guide the ball home from close range with a simple tap in. Such a simple move, such a devastating result.
Two minutes later City almost had a second when Elliot Omozusi's awful back header was hit woefully short of his keeper. Cureton was on it in a flash, but his first time chip had a little too much on it as the ball nestled on top of the net. In the ninth minute Harley's cheeky pass inside found Nardiello whose looping drive to the far top corner narrowly beat the angle of post and bar.
Then in the 12th minute Orient finally mounted a meaningful attack, but one with such a clinical result. The O's midfield was allowed far too much time and space to easily work the ball down the left where it was played inside to Dean Cox whose arrow straight drive to the top corner from 25 yards out left Hamer with no chance as Orient levelled the game at 1-1.
After such a frantic start things settled down for a bit as both sides found the measure of each other, but in the 25th minute City had a great chance to retake the lead when the ball eventually found its way to Dunne deep on the right. His hanging cross was met by a full stretch Nardiello, but his good looking header was butted narrowly wide of the far post. City had a further chance ten minutes before the break, but Troy's powerful downward header from a Harley corner bounced up straight into the arms of the Orient keeper.
The second half began with Orient in determined mood as they enjoyed huge dollops of possession with City left chasing shadows. It wasn't until the 14th minute substitution of Logan for Sercombe and the 16th minute substitution of Thomson for the seemingly injured Nardiello that City finally got a sniff of the ball, but even so it was Orient who fashioned the first decent chance of the game when Jimmy Smith flashed a 25 yard effort at Hamer that he was happy to push away to safety.
But finally City saw a sight of goal in the 19th minute when a corner from the right was met by Logan 15 yards out, but he steered his header back across goal and just the wrong side of the far post. Four minutes later Harley managed to miscontrol the ball past a static defender before smashing a ferocious left foot drive from 30 yards out that had the keeper scrambling to turn it round the post for a corner.
City were by now right back in the game and enjoying decent spells of possession themselves, and in the 28th minute most of the team got a touch as the ball was worked across the field to Dunne who cut in from the right to fire a fierce left foot effort onto the roof of the net from distance. With ten minutes to go though, City found a winner. Cureton managed to wriggle into the box despite the close attentions of a couple of defenders and when the ball broke loose Logan was on hand to blast goalwards from 15 yards. The keeper made an instinctive parry, but only as far as Cureton who poked the ball into an empty net from point blank range to make it 2-1 to City.
Five minutes later Cureton had a great chance for his hat trick, but his header from Noble's floated cross was straight at the keeper from 8 yards out. But it wasn't all City though as Orient had a fine chance for an equaliser with a minute or two of normal time remaining. The ball was played across the face of the City box where Andrew Whing was waiting to smash a full blooded thunderbolt goalwards from 15 yards out, but Hamer stayed big to make a great block. From then on City managed to see out the remaining minutes to record their fifth win on the bounce to take their play-off chase to the wire.
As for the players, apart from a great block late on Hamer didn't really have an awful lot to do, but what he did do was distribute quickly and accurately, unlike his opposite number who regularly miskicked to City players. At the heart of the City defence Troy and Duffy remained strong and gave little to the Orient attack, and once again the full backs Golbourne and Tully covered an awful lot of ground getting up and down.
As did Dunne and Sercombe in the City midfield, which gave Noble and Harley the time and space to work the ball around. Up front it was a shame to see Nardiello depart, especially after his two goals last week, but the goal machine that is Jamie Cureton just keeps on going with a typical poacher's brace today. Logan came off the bench to give the team a different dimension up front, and if there was any criticism to be had today it would be that possibly the ball could have been played out to winger Jake Thomson a little more often.
But that's just being picky as today's win was a fine one and keeps the team's recent good form going. Hopefully they can keep it going for a little longer yet starting with next Friday's visit of Oldham before a trip to Tranmere precedes the game everyone's waiting for when Plymouth are the visitors in the penultimate game of the season before it's all wound up at Sheffield Wednesday the following weekend.
Or is it? No need to look over our shoulders any more this season, it's upwards we need to aim for now, and with the form we're in at the moment, who knows what this season will bring? There's only one way to find out, so we'll see you all there on Friday. You never know...
    Data provided by Press Association