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17:32 14th September 2011

Exeter City 1 Notts County 1

So on a chilly but thankfully unblowy night the points end up shared with neither side able to break the other down with both defences firmly on top in front of a lowly 3474 supporters. City lined up: Pidgeley; Jones, Coles, Archibald-Henville, Duffy, Tully; Shephard, Noble, Dunne; Logan, Nichols.

After a fairly frantic opening set of skirmishes, City opened the scoring as early as the 6th minute. A wicked Jones inswinging corner saw everyone it seems have a shot blocked before eventually the ball was played out to Jones who'd stayed wide. Once again he delivered a superb inswinger where Troy rose highest at the far post to butt firmly towards goal. Unfortunately Notts defender Alan Sheehan was unable to deflect the ball away, instead sending it straight past his keeper and into his own net from six yards out to join Troy, Nichols and Bauza at the top of City's league goalscoring charts.

Ten minutes later the scores were all square as Notts fashioned a somewhat fortuitous equaliser. Troy's attempted clearance from inside his six yard area spun off an attacker's shin as he looked to block the clearance and screwed right across the area to the unmarked Ben Burgess who had the easiest tap in from five yards at the far post. In the 25th minute a lightning quick break down the right saw Notts almost take the lead when the ball was whipped in from the right for Burgess to nod down at the far post where Jeff Hughes slammed the ball high over the bar from ten yards.

Noble's 30 yard inswinging free kick was only partially cleared to Jones on the half hour, but his piledriver from the same distance was always too high. As the half drew to a close Noble drew an excellent save from the Notts keeper sending a devilish free kick curling towards the near post from 25 yards forcing the keeper to dive full length to turn it round the post for a corner.

In the fifth minute of the second half Logan did well to shield the ball with his back to goal 20 yards out, however, Dunne rather hurried the lay-off blasting high over the angle of post and bar. Five minutes later Duffy charged down the right driving a low ball across the face of goal, but with a defender airshooting instead of clearing, Logan couldn't react quickly enough and the ball whizzed past him to safety. Notts came back strongly though, and Pidgeley had to be at his athletic best sprawling across goal to palm away a close range shot from Mike Edwards from a ball over from the left.

Again Notts went close to taking the lead midway through the half when a towering far post header from Neal Bishop looped back across goal and off the bar before Tisdale decided to change things around from a 5-3-2 formation to a 4-5-1 formation with Logan and Nichols being replaced by Keohane and Vine. The substitutions almost paid off immediately with Vine showing great strength and determination battling down the left four minutes later before drilling a low cross to the far cormer of the six yard box. Unfortunately Keohane was forced slightly wider than he'd have liked and scooped the ball harmlessly wide.

With two minutes to go City had the best chance of the game. Gavin Mahon got caught in possession deep in his own half and stumbled before being robbed by the busy Keohane. He played the ball forward to Vine who strode into the box looking to round the keeper. Unfortunately his touch was heavy and the keeper smothered the ball at his feet before he had chance to shoot. Then finally in stoppage time Shephard had two great chances but fluffed both - the first from Tully's cut back, although admittedly it was a tad behind him as he rushed in on goal, then the a second again from a Tully ball in from the right that got caught up in his legs.

But I guess a point each was fair enough. Neither side did enough to deserve the win with not enough from either front line troubling their opposing defences unduly. Coles especially had a fine game at the back, as did Dunne charging around in the middle, although a booking midway through the second half - presumably for a cumulation of lesser offences - somewhat subdued his performance. Notts however were always going to be difficult to break down. Big, strong, well disciplined and well drilled, they took full advantage of the relaxing of the rules regarding pushing and were able to shove City players off the ball at will and without censure, making City's task all the more difficult.

So onwards we go, with one more point to our name, as we welcome fellow strugglers Bournemouth to the Park at the weekend. Hopefully we'll fare that one step better than tonight, and hopefully we can be a little more controlled in front of goal. We seemed to create enough tonight without perhaps being clever enough to finish it off - let's see if we can change that this Saturday.

    Data provided by Press Association