Burton Albion 1-1 Exeter CityA point apiece probably does little to satisfy the ambitions of either side but no-one could argue that a draw was a fair result as Exeter City held Burton Albion to a 1-1 draw at the Pirelli Stadium in difficult and trying conditions. With a heavy pitch and strong gusty winds making flowing football almost impossible Albion were probably relieved to hit back after an unfortunate Ian Sharps own goal had given the Grecians the lead but within 90 seconds Albion were back on level terms as Adam McGurk swept home Zeli Ismail's low cross.
New signing Gary Alexander had to settle for a place on the bench after his deadline day capture from Crawley Town. McGurk returned to the starting line-up after illness kept him out of the game against Fleetwood Town and Ismail was also restored to the team at the expense of Lee Bell, Matty Palmer returning to the centre of midfield to accommodate the on loan Wolves winger.
Exeter started brightly with John O'Flynn just unable to latch onto Liam Sercombe's searching pass and Matt Grimes ventured forwards to fire a low left foot shot wide of the post, Dean Lyness watching the ball as it went the wrong side of the post.
Burton quickly responded in positive fashion with Phil Edwards, the match winner in the reverse fixture at St James Park heading wide from Damien McCrory's corner and Adam McGurk twice denied as he broke forwards trying to beat former Albion keeper Artur Krysiak.
The Grecians thought they had taken the lead when they forced the ball over the line from a corner but referee Keith Hill had already adjudged there to have been a foul on Lyness. Albion came back at the visitors and a spell of heavy pressure still did not bring the opening goal, Matty Palmer seeing a downwards header deflect over the bar from a Jimmy Phillips cross and McGurk could not quite keep a shot down as Ismail clipped in an excellent cross from the right.
Exeter had the ball in the back of the Burton net for a second time on 27 minutes but again it remained scoreless as the flag of the assistant ruled that John O'Flynn was offside as he stooped to steer a header past Lyness from Liam Sercombe's centre.
Whilst Burton pressed the strong wind against them hampered their attacking intentions. This was highlighted when Phil Edwards attempts to lift a free kick into the box and when it held up on the wind and fell short Exeter were able to break and a little more composure from Sercombe would have seen Lyness tested but as it was he hurriedly screwed his shot wide after good hold-up play from O'Flynn.
A forgettable half came to an end with Exeter on the attack but without seriously threatening to beat Lyness.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Exeter City
The second half desperately needed something to spark the game into life but both sides seemed to be lacking the killer instinct so when the opening goal eventually came it was ironic that it was an own goal in the style of last week's comedy of errors that provided the breakthrough. O'Flynn chanced his arm with a shot from distance that Lyness parried but in making the save he knocked the ball against Ian SHARPS who could only watch in horror as the ball bounced off him and bobbled into the back of the net. The Grecians lead lasted less than ninety seconds though as Albion quickly went in search of the equaliser and a low teasing cross from Ismail on the right came through the box and fell nicely for McGURK to sweep home a low shot.
On the hour mark Alexander was handed the chance to make an impact and he almost provided it with a header that forced Krysiak to scramble the ball away, Jimmy Phillips'cross almost providing the striker with a debut goal.
Arron Davies was denied the chance to put Exeter in front when Phil Edwards threw himself in front of a goalbound shot from the ex-Yeovil man and from the corner Albion almost made a hash of things as Lyness tentatively punched clear but it almost worked out well as Alexander sent Phillips scampering away almost the full length of the pitch with Krysiak standing firm to clutch onto his shot when it came.
It was anybody's game now and with Dominic Knowles already into the action for Billy Kee a third change saw the fresh legs of Chris Hussey replace Jimmy Phillips as albion went in search of the winner in the final fifteen minutes. However it was Exeter that should really have taken the lead when a teasing ball came in from the right and Scot Bennett threw himself in to skew the ball over the crossbar when perhaps he should have done better.
With Shane Cansdell-Sherriff seemingly struggling with an injury Albion had to reshuffle the back line having already made all three substitutions. Damien McCrory dropped in at centre half with Chris Hussey adopting the left back role and Cansdell-Sherriff moving into attack. Lyness was forced into a late save to deny Davies a winner from a near post header but a share of the spoils was probably about right in the end.