Exeter City battled to a well-earned point on Gary Caldwell's first game in charge away at Derby County
A cacophony of noise welcomed The Grecians to Pride Park for the first time in their history, but a frantic, fast paced game ended in a 0-0 draw.
A Tuesday night in Derbyshire saw newly appointed manager Gary Caldwell make two changes to the side that won at home against Fleetwood Town on Saturday, with Pierce Sweeney coming back in after suspension to replace Cheick Diabate who missed out on precautionary measures and the other change seeing Tim Dieng back starting in League action in place of Harry Kite.
A chance straight from kick-off for Derby County saw them attacking the City back three, but the chance came to nothing in the end, with their shot sailing wide of Jamal Blackmans goal, both sets of fans in full voice right from the very off.
With ten minutes played the Rams were very much the team in charge when it came to possession but the pressure from Sparkes, Nombe, Brown and Stansfield was starting to cause slight panic at the back for County.
After 15 minutes referee Adam Herczeg had to go to his book for the first time in the game, with County midfielder Korey Smith receiving a yellow card for a rather cynical shirt tug right on the edge of his own 18-yard line after he was dispossed by Jay Stansfield. The resulting free kick came to nothing with the ball hitting into the wall.
A huge chance went amiss for Derby County just after the half-hour mark. A sloppy pass out the back from Key found multiple Derby players in space, but he made up for his mistake with a fantastic tracking back run to stop the first cross into the box, with the ball eventually making its way into the box it could only find the arms of Blackman who smothered the ball.
Straight from that piece of play came a stoppage for The Rams with Derby manager Paul Warne enforced into an early change with James Chester having to be replaced by David McGoldrick. The arrival of McGoldrick led to an immediate yellow card for City, with Archie Collins getting his name put in the referee’s book after a tug back on the halfway line and the sides went into the break level.
Half-time saw one new change for Derby with Lewis Dobbin replacing the departing Louie Sibley, and it was the new arrival who caused immediate trouble for the defence of City, with the young winger making it past multiple City defenders before his effort completely missed the target.
Manager Gary Caldwell made his first chage in the 69th minute with Jevani Brown replaced by club captain Matt Jay.
Jay made an impact as soon as he entered the field of play, upping the tempo and getting the team going after a flat ten or so minutes. However, come the 75th minute he found himself in the book after not getting ten yards away from a free kick. The resulting free kick saw Blackman pull a save right out the top drawer to keep the game at 0-0.
A scary moment in the final ten minutes of the game for City, as goalkeeper Blackman went down with a serious head injury resulting in Jamal having to leave the pitch after a long time on the floor. On to replace him was 17-year-old Harry Lee making his league debut for the club.
Lee was quickly called into action palming the ball away to safety from a dangerous cross, a fantastic save to keep City in the game, that save bringing an end to the game and another clean sheet for City and a point for Gary Caldwell at his first game.
The Grecians are next in action next Monday, October 31 in Devon Derby action away at Plymouth Argyle.
City Starting XI: Blackman (Lee '97), Caprice, Key, Sweeney ©, Hartridge, Sparkes, Collins, Dieng, Brown (Jay '69), Nombe (Kite '79), Stansfield
Subs not used: Harper, Chauke, Cox, James
Derby County Starting XI: Wildsmith, Forsyth, Hourihane, Chester (McGoldrick), Cashin, Bird ©, Mendez-Laing, Smith, Sibley (Dobbin), Osula
Subs not used: Loach, Thompson, Stearman, Oduroh, Rooney
Referee: Adam Herczeg
Attendance: 24640 (Away 1197)