A frustrated crowd of 3,426 watched on as Exeter failed to build upon the midweek draw at Wycombe, as low-flying Bury managed to capitalise on Exeter’s defensive frailties to claim a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park.
Exeter struggled to gain any sort of momentum in the opening 10 minutes, with the ball spending little time on the ground as the teams battled for possession. It was Bury who struck first in the 15th minute, as former Exeter City striker Daniel Nardiello buried a low shot from just outside the area down to the keeper’s right hand side. Bury nearly compounded Exeter’s problems mere minutes later, as a poor back pass allowed the ball to be drilled across the face of goal, only for Hylton’s weak shot to be saved by a scrambling Kyrsiak.
Exeter struggled to find a way through for much of the first half. Their repeated long balls down the middle of the park to O’Flynn and Gow were largely ineffectual, thanks to the towering presence of Cameron and Edjenguele at the back for Bury. Exeter’s central defensive partnership was notably shaky for most of the afternoon as they consistently surrendered possession in dangerous areas. Nonetheless, their wing play did show promise, particularly in the shape of Butterfield and Wheeler down the right hand side, who consistently found space to deliver dangerous balls into the box.
It was down the left however, that Exeter finally found an equaliser on 40 minutes. Woodman’s throw-in found an unmarked O’Flynn, and his ball found the onrushing Wheeler, who placed a neat volley into the bottom left hand corner from six yards to level the game before half time.
Half time saw O’Flynn replaced by Parkin, whose height and physicality was sorely needed against Bury’s defence. Regardless, it was Bury who started the stronger of the two sides after the restart. A long ball over the top saw a lack of communication between the Exeter back line and the keeper result in a panicked clearance for a Bury corner. The significant height advantage of Bury’s centre back Cameron saw him leap largely unchallenged in centre of the six-yard box to head beyond Krysiak into the bottom corner.
Once again, Bury reacted the better of the two sides once going ahead. It was almost déjà vu for Exeter as a long ball once again unlocked their defence. The resultant goalmouth scramble eventually saw Proctor’s header cleared off the line, despite protest from the away fans and the Bury team that the ball had gone in.
To Exeter’s credit, there were spells in the game in which they played some very neat tidy passing football, but Bury pressured the ball extremely well, leaving the final product disappointing. City manager Paul Tisdale clearly felt the team needed changing to salvage the game, as wingers Nichols and Davies were bought on in place of goal-scorer Wheeler and centre back Coles. The home fans booed the substitution of Wheeler, as he had look like their most likely creative outlet to break down Bury’s defence. Even the away fans expressed their surprise, with chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” coming from the 123 travelling Bury supporters.
It was Tisdale who was to have the last laugh however, as a good spell of pressure from Exeter lead to substitute Nichols grabbing an equaliser on 77 minutes. A failed corner eventually came out to Sercombe, whose pass across the face of goal was lifted into the centre of the net by the 20-year-old academy product.
That goal gave the Grecians a much-needed boost, as great spells of pressure saw Woodman’s shot from the edge of the area saved. Bury remained dangerous however, especially Hylton and Jones who consistently chased down the nervy Exeter back line. Bury perhaps should have won the game, as Jones’ ball was on a plate for Soares, who headed the ball uncontested over the bar from five yards out.
Exeter ended the game with positive play, their two close range efforts defended valiantly by the Bury defenders, but it wasn’t enough to rescue more than a point for City. An away trip to Accrington in their next game offers the Grecians a good opportunity to collect their first win in seven games.
Will Cafferky, Sports Teambookmark me