Exeter City drew 1-1 with Swindon Town at the County Ground in their second match of the Sky Bet League Two season.
A first half goal from Liam McAlinden was cancelled out by Swindon Town substitute Kaiyne Woolery in the second half, meaning the Grecians travelled back to Devon with one point after a hard fought encounter.
Paul Tisdale made three changes to the side that suffered a narrow defeat to Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup in midweek with Craig Woodman, Jordan Moore-Taylor and David Wheeler returning to the starting line up in place of Troy Archibald-Henville, Jake Taylor and Luke Croll.
City had their first attempt through Holmes, who was making his first league start of the season. The City winger’s effort from distance was on target, but for an important block by the Town defence.
The resulting deflection led to two City corners, and the second seeing Moore-Taylor rise well but the City defender was unable to connect with the ball from close range, despite finding himself in a good position unmarked.
City had another attempt on goal six minutes in when a long ball forward found Liam McAlinden unmarked. Good hold up play with Reuben Reid followed before Jordan Tillson was teed up just outside of the box, but his curled effort was straight at Swindon goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
It took the home side until just before the 20-minute mark to register their first effort on goal through Harry Smith. After Paul Mullin did well to turn Pierce Sweeney and cross, Smith’s low effort was just wide of Christy Pym’s left-hand post.
City then had a good move down the left-hand side, started by Craig Woodman’s ball forward to Holmes. The winger’s cross was met by McAlinden who did excellently to tee up Reid, who was looking for his second goal of the season, but his volley was mistimed and rolled out for a Town goal kick.
The Grecians then thought they’d scored their first of the afternoon when Sweeney’s header at the back post was then nudged towards goal by Troy Brown, but Town cleared off the line. Despite City’s appeals that the ball had crossed the line they were made to settle for a corner.
City then, deservedly, found themselves a goal to the good on 27 minutes in an extraordinary phase of play. From Chris Hussey’s dangerous free-kick, which was punched away by Pym, which led to a Grecians’ counter-attack.
Reid’s strike from distance was then tipped onto the post by Vigouroux, but thankfully McAlinden was on hand to tap in from close range after finding himself unmarked in the Town penalty area to give the City number 19 his first goal of the season.
The home side then thought they had drawn themselves level moments later when a dangerous cross deflected off of Sweeney’s head and into the City net, but for the linesman’s flag which adjudged there to have been a Town handball in the build-up.
City, who dominated much of the first half, then had another good chance to extend their lead through Holmes. After Sweeney had collected Reid’s pass out wide, he crossed excellently towards the far post, but the incoming winger was unable to keep his header on target.
McAlinden then almost made it 2-0 with a superb piece of link up play with Reid. Sweeney’s pass inside was dummied by McAlinden for Reid as the latter laid it back to his teammate whose curled shot was just wide of Vigouroux’s post which meant City went into the break with their one goal advantage.
City began the second half with the same intent when they had another attempt cleared off of the line, this time by Vigouroux, from Holmes’ dangerous in swinging corner.
But Swindon were keen to put on a performance in front of their home supporters and began to dominate possession in the second half.
Substitute Luke Norris had a thumping left footed strike saved brilliantly by Pym, before they drew level through fellow substitute Kaiyne Woolery.
A low pass saw Woolery latch onto the ball in behind the City defence after 56 minutes, and despite the onrushing Pym, the Town number 22 poked home to level the match.
Woolery, who often looked threatening with his pace, was then played through on goal as Town broke, but his effort was saved well by Pym as he rushed from goal and Moore-Taylor then did excellently to get back and clear.
Jake Taylor then had a good opportunity for City on 73 minutes when, after good build up play from the likes of Reid and Lloyd James, his curled effort edged just wide of Vigouroux’s goal.
As City continued to search for a winning goal Tisdale looked to youngster Jack Sparkes, who made his competitive debut on 74 minutes, and made an instant impact with a thunderous effort from distance coming back off the post, with Vigouroux well beaten.
Both sides continued to push forwards in search of the all-important winner, City with an excellent chance to snatch the lead on 90 minutes when Holmes burst through to strike well, but for a good save by the Town goalkeeper.
But the scores stayed level as referee Darren Drysdale blew his whistle after four added minutes, to give City a hard-earned point at the County Ground.
Swindon Town: Vigouroux, Purkiss, Hussey, Robertson, Lancashire, Mullin, Dunne, Brophy (Thomas, 83), Linganzi, Smith (Norris, 45), McDermott (Woolery, 45)
Subs: Thomas, Henry, Iandolo, Smith, Conroy
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman, James, Tillson, Holmes, Wheeler (Taylor, 45), Moore-Taylor, McAlinden (Sparkes, 73), Reid, Brown
Subs: Hamon, Simpson, Brunt, Jay, Croll
Booked: Dunne, Taylor, James
Attendance: 7,795. Away. 803