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14:49 15th January 2012

Exeter City 0 Hartlepool United 0

So for the third home game in a row City have to settle for a share of the spoils in a hard fought 0-0 draw against Hartlepool on a bitterly cold afternoon in front of 4016 supporters. City lined up: Krysiak; Golbourne, Archibald-Henville, Duffy, Tully; Nardiello, Noble, Sercombe, Dunne; Bauza, Logan.

After a somewhat cagey and somewhat hit and miss opening period to the game where neither side could get the better of the other, the first bit of action of note was a late challenge on Sercombe in front of the dug-outs fourteen minutes in. In a somewhat par for the course fashion from the referee, it was some time before he stopped the game and awarded a free kick, but such was the ferocity of the tackle that it was the end of Sercombe's afternoon with Taylor taking his place. Dunne then came inside to partner Noble in the middle with Taylor assuming Dunne's right midfield role.

A minute later Nardiello set off on a charge through the middle, eventually ending up at the right corner of the box, but in two minds as to whether to chip the keeper or blast low he ended up doing neither dinking the ball straight into the keeper's arms from 15 yards out. Nardiello fared better a couple of minutes later though, again working the ball through the middle. He played it left to Taylor who waited for Dunne to overlap further to his left. Taylor played the ball through, Dunne chased into the box and whipped a delicious outswinger to the far post that unfortunately just had too much pace for the rushing Logan.

A minute after that Dunne's long throw to the near post was cleared, but only as far as Taylor 20 yards out right of centre. His ambitious looking volley sailed wastefully over the bar. For the remaining 25 minutes of the half both sides huffed and puffed, tried hard but failed spectacularly to put together any move of note or draw a save - any sort of save - from either keeper.

That was until the final minute of the half when Nardiello from deep set Dunne away. He played the ball across to Bauza who in turn played it further across to Taylor. Taylor played the ball low back across the edge of the box from the right where Dunne had advanced and tried to place the ball into the corner rather than blast it, but it lacked any sort of power and the keeper had a simple collect.

In the second half things started much more brightly for City with Bauza almost immediately giving the keeper something to think about with a sighter a foot over the far angle of post and bar from the opposite corner of the box after latching onto Golbourne's throw in. Taylor then invited Nardiello to scamper down the right before whipping in a classy outswinger that was bundled clear at the far post for a corner.

On the quarter hour Logan was replaced O'Flynn - sporting a new shocking bleach white hair style - then a minute later Tully's ball into Taylor from the right forced a fine save from the keeper tipping Taylor's 25 yard drive to the top corner around the post for a corner.

Finally with 15 minutes to go Krysiak was required for more than just regulation stuff when Antony Sweeney forced his way into the box for a one on one with Krysiak 15 yards out, but Artur was out quickly and made himself big enough to smother Sweeney's low drive. Up the other end Harltepool hearts were in mouths as Sam Collins came charging out to block Bauza's 20 yard effort where it ballooned up and over the already diving keeper to just beat the crossbar and nestle onto the roof of the net.

Bauza was then replaced with five minutes to go by Coles as City changed to a 3-5-2 formation for a final big push on the Hartlepool goal. Noble swung in a free kick from deep where Troy got up higher than anyone else to send a fearsome header goalwards, but the keeper was grateful it was butted straight into his chest as surely had it been either side it would have been a goal.

Deep into stoppage time City had one final opportunity when Noble chanced a curler from 25 yards, but unfortunately he just couldn't get enough bend on it as it whistled a yard the wrong side of the post.

So perhaps a game City should have won, and maybe on another day they might have, but then again it always looked a game they were unlikely to lose. Home wins are at something of a premium at the moment, so plenty for manager Tisdale and his staff to work on up front, but at the back the return of Duffy to the starting line-up certainly seems to have had an effect with City earning their second clean sheet on the bounce. They also remain unbeaten this year and at home you have to go all the way back to the Huddersfield game three months and seven games ago to find a home defeat.

So plenty to take forward to Oldham next weekend before the visit of leaders Charlton at the end of the month and a horrendously tricky February. But we're building a good home record so they're all games we can look forward to with confidence and eager anticipation. I can't wait.

    Data provided by Press Association