Misfiring Grecians rescued by O'Flynn's point-saving strike
Finding ways to win on the road right now does not seem to be a problem for Exeter City. But working out a way to win on home soil is proving to be far more difficult for Paul Tisdale's team.
After four excellent npower League Two wins on the bounce, three of which away from St James' Park, the Grecians were looking to make it five against York City on Saturday. But Tisdale's side were unable to find the same kind of attacking verve that had brought them such success at Oxford United last week, or in their three previous League encounters.
The win at Oxford was built on a solid foundation and a clinical counter-attacking display. All well and good when you are playing away, but when at home, the Grecians are struggling to adapt when the onus is on them to take the game to the opposition.
All too often, they looked sluggish in their play against York and, come full-time, they were left happy with a point after the in-form John O'Flynn bagged an 83rd minute equaliser to rescue a point from a 1-1 draw.
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City went into the game fielding the same side that had won in such style at Oxford, but you would hardly have guessed.
Jamie Cureton, who netted twice in that win before going off with a hamstring complaint, looked as though the issue was still troubling him on Saturday. The veteran striker put a shift in and played for an hour before being replaced by Elliott Chamberlain, who came on for his Football League debut.
Cureton appeared to play a more advanced role than he did against Oxford, and more as a strike partner for O'Flynn. It did not work as the Grecians struggled to find the ball in the pocket between midfield and attack and, as a result, it took them some time to get into the contest.
When they did, their passing was too slow. York, to their credit, were well set and harried Exeter throughout the 90 minutes and, on this evidence, they will be there or thereabouts come May.
When City did eventually find their stride, they were a goal down and chasing the game. That said, the way in which they finished the game was highly commendable and they had chances to win it after O'Flynn's late leveller.
The first half was a bit of a non-entity. York created the better chances and posed the greater threat, but the best chance of all came Exeter's way.
Cureton sent Liam Sercombe scampering clear and, with O'Flynn and Arron Davies in support, the Exeter midfielder unselfishly laid the ball square. Unfortunately, it had just a little too much pace on it. Davies made contact, but his effort – from barely six yards – was skied high over the crossbar.
York opened the scoring seven minutes into the second half. It was all too easy as they cut straight through the heart of the Exeter defence, and Michael Coulson finished off from Jonathan Smith's through ball. By then, City had lost the effective Sercombe to injury.
The Minstermen were happy to sit on that lead, and it was not really until the final quarter of the game that Exeter really got going. Matt Oakley grew into the game and was the source for most home attacks in the final 20 minutes, while Craig Woodman enjoyed his best game yet for City in a more advanced role.
Indeed, the left-flank man came close to equalising for City with an instinctive volley from 30 yards, but the ball found the outside, rather than the inside, of the York net.
O'Flynn headed a chance wide and saw another effort saved before the Irishman got his rewards seven minutes from time. Chamberlain, Woodman and Jordan Moore-Taylor all combined well down the left to find Oakley, and his cut-back was superbly turned in by O'Flynn from ten yards.
Chamberlain should have won it for City when he was played in on goal, but he delayed his shot, allowing the York defence to get back and block.
The Minstermen threatened too and, in stoppage time, Artur Krysiak had to be at his best to make a superb stop to deny Danny Parslow.
A draw was about right on the day, making it a win, a draw and a defeat from three home League encounters. But City have to be more positive if they are to sort out such inconsistent home form.