Match report: Exeter City 1 Burton 1Exeter City and Burton Albion played out a 1-1 draw at St James Park, with both goals coming after the break.
Jacob Blyth was Burton’s goalscorer on the hour-mark – and it looked like it was going to be enough until Christian Ribeiro headed in City’s equaliser with less than five minutes on the clock.
The result kept up Exeter’s record of being the only Football League team to have scored and conceded in all of their home games in the league to date this season.
And while it didn’t earn Exeter a place amongst the play-off places, it represented a decent point against a resolute Burton outfit.
Manager Paul Tisdale named an unchanged starting XI – the only change came on the bench, where Scot Bennett returned from injury to step into the breach in place of Ryan Harley, while Matt Oakley retained the captain’s armband for the fixture.
Chances were at a premium in the first quarter of an hour – Liam Sercombe couldn’t quite pick out run of striker Graham Cummins through the middle. At the other end Darragh Lenihan opted to pass rather than shoot when the ball came in from the right and saw the chance pass.
Exeter began to see more and more of the ball in the central third, with the midfield trio of Sercombe, David Noble and Matt Grimes pulling the strings.
Noble tried a neat scooped pass towards Tom Nichols, who headed back into the path of Alex Nicholls on the edge of the box, but he lashed his left-footed volley wide of target.
As the clock ticked beyond the half-hour mark, the Brewers began to stamp their mark on the game and Lenihan pulled a first-time shot wide from 25 yards as he was laid in by Jacob Blyth, before Robbie Weir saw a volley deflected wide off the thigh of a team-mate.
Alex MacDonald was the latest to chance his arm – the ball fell kindly to him as a forward ball cannoned into his path off teammate Kelvin Maynard, but he cut across his strike and hit it wide.
However Exeter were also showing signs of threat and Nicholls shot well from the right but it was fielded well by goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin from a narrow angle.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Burton Albion 0
Attacking the Thatchers Big Bank after the break, City had their best chance of the game when Nicholls put over a fine cross from the right – however Cummins could only head over with John Mousinho applying the pressure.
City stopper James Hamon had his first real save to make soon after when Lenihan wound up a shot from 25 yards, which stuck to the hands of the goalkeeper.
The Brewers broke the deadlock on the hour-mark, however – it was a low cross in from the left by MacDonald that saw Beavon dummy the delivery to allow Blyth to slot in from the edge of the six-yard box.
While two Brewers players were down receiving treatment for cramp, Tis took the opportunity to shuffle his forward line – Nichols, Nicholls and Cummins were all withdrawn and David Wheeler and Bennett were introduced alongside debutant Clinton Morrison.
It might have paid instant dividends and when Morrison won the ball on halfway and put in Bennett, who in turn fed Sercombe, but the midfielder shot over on his left.
City reshuffled in the last ten minutes with Oakley pushed high into attack and Bennett in at centre-half, with Morrison the focal point of attack.
And with Burton trying their utmost to tick down the minutes, City finally broke down the Brewers’ resistance. Sercombe’s deep cross forced Damien McCrory to head behind for a corner, and Grimes duly delivered a peach of a delivery for Ribeiro to head in.
Grimes then delivered another whipped delivery which just evaded everyone as City pressed to try and get the winner.
Beavon had a chance at the other end to win it for the Brewers but his shot pinballed around and eventually it was hooked away.
City too had late opportunities to win in as Grimes whipped in from a corner and a deep free-kick but Burton cleared their lines as it ended in parity.
Full-time: Exeter City 1 Burton Albion 1
Exeter City: Hamon; Ribeiro, Butterfield, Oakley, Woodman; Sercombe, Noble, Grimes; Nicholls (Morrison 65), Nichols (Bennett 65), Cummins (Wheeler 65).
Unused subs: Pym, Keohane, Davies, Tillson.
Goal: Ribeiro (86).
Burton Albion: McLaughlin; Maynard (Slade 69), Mousinho, Cansdell-Sherriff, McCrory; Morris (Palmer 57), Lenihan, Weir, MacDonald; Beavon, Blyth (McGurk 75).
Unused subs: Matthews, Taft, Knowles, McGurk, Harness.
Goal: Blyth (60).
Attendance: 3,381 (64 away).
Referee: Patrick Miller