Report: Exeter City 2 Bury 2
Exeter City twice came from behind to share the points with Bury at St James Park, as the game ended 2-2.
Former Exeter man Daniel Nardiello set Bury on their way, before David Wheeler pegged back with a volley ahead of the interval.
Nathan Cameron headed Bury back ahead within a minute of the restart, but sub Tom Nichols’ close-range effort drew the sides back level once more.
Both sides had chances to win it in the final minutes, but it ended in parity ahead of a two-week interval for the Grecians.
City gaffer Paul Tisdale named an identical matchday squad to the one that got a point from Wycombe Wanderers in midweek, meaning a seat on the bench again for Pat Baldwin, Arron Davies and Sam Parkin.
Shakers boss Ronnie Jepson, a former Grecian himself, named a fellow ex-City player in the starting XI in the shape of Nardiello, on loan from Rotherham United.
After withstanding some early pressure down the left, City had two decent chances to go ahead. Artur Krysiak’s goal-kick was allowed to bounce by William Edjenguele and David Wheeler ran on to hit on the half-volley, but dragged his effort wide of the goal. Soon after, John O’Flynn rose well to head a Danny Butterfield cross, but he couldn’t get any direction with Nathan Cameron in close proximity.
But with a quarter of an hour played, it was the visitors that took the lead through former City man Nardiello. Exeter seemed to have dealt with an initial threat but Nardiello was allowed the time and space to swivel and caught out Krysiak with a strike across goal and into the far corner.
Nardiello almost turned provider on the break as he delivered an excellent low centre across the six-yard box which dissected the Grecians defence – Krysiak got across his line well to deny Danny Hylton at the back stick.
Then Hylton missed another equally glorious chance to double the Shakers’ lead when Dean Howell’s agricultural clearance turned into a long pass for the striker. He held off the attention of City captain Danny Coles before striking inches wide of the target.
Liam Sercombe and Alan Gow had chances in close succession to draw level, but both sliced their efforts wide and left Brian Jensen unchallenged.
The Grecians could probably consider themselves lucky to only be a goal down approaching the half-time whistle, but Wheeler – who had been Exeter’s brightest spark – took the bull by the horns to level the scores.
It was a great reverse cross by O’Flynn that found Wheeler tightly marked, but he still managed to fashion a great left-footed volley to draw the scores level.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 Bury 1
O’Flynn was removed at the interval after finishing the first period with a knock. Parkin was the man to join the attack.
But the Grecians had the worst imaginable start to the second period when Chris Sedgwick delivered a fine outswinging cross for Cameron to head home, as the centre-half found a pocket of space.
Exeter could have pegged back almost straight away when Matt Grimes showed a little bit of skill to win a free-kick 25 yards out and central. Sercombe stepped up and drew a fine low save from Jensen.
And the travelling Bury support were convinced they had a third goal when another corner caused chaos in the six-yard box. Cameron and Shakers captain Tom Soares both forced the ball goalwards but the assistant referee was unmoved by all the appeals that claimed the ball was over the line.
Paul Tisdale went for a change of tack by removing Coles and Wheeler and introducing Tom Nichols and Davies for the final 20 minutes.
Within minutes it had paid dividends, as Nichols bagged his first goal of the season for City. A succession of decent deliveries and a sprawling save by Jensen to deny Parkin had Bury struggling to clear their lines.
So it was little surprise when Nichols popped up with a close-range header as a ball was flashed across the face, to tie things up with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Nardiello wasted a glorious chance to give Bury the lead for a third time when Craig Jones hung up a fine cross which he headed over from six yards.
And Soares also drew a fine save from Krysiak with a thunderous strike from 25 yards.
City had chances to nick it in stoppage time as Sercombe and Davies were both denied with saving blocks, before Nichols glanced a Grimes header no more than a couple of yards wide.
Full-time: Exeter City 2 Bury 2
Exeter City: Krysiak; Butterfield, Coles (Nichols 70), Bennett, Woodman; Wheeler (Davies 70), Gill, Grimes, Sercombe, Gow; O’Flynn (Parkin 46).
Subs (not used): Pym, Baldwin, Doherty, Keohane.
Goals: Wheeler (40), Nichols (74).
Bury: Jensen; Beeley, Cameron, Edjenguele, Howell; Jones, Soares, Procter, Sedgwick (Mayor 79); Nardiello, Hylton.
Subs (not used): Lainton, Hinds, Holden, Harrad, Reindorf.
Goals: Nardiello (15), Cameron (47).
Attendance: 3,426 (123 away)
Referee: S. Martin