Report: Exeter 2-2 Town
Fleetwood Town maintained an unbeaten away record stretching back eight games following a balanced outing at St James’ Park.
Fleetwood took the lead through skipper Steve McNulty on 13 minutes as the visitors started the brighter. Jamie Cureton was then given the opportunity to draw level 11 minutes later.
Fleetwood regained their first half upper hand an retook the lead just before the break thanks to Barry Nicholson making the most of an accurate Barry Ferguson pass.
Youl Mawene was harshly punished when the defender appeared to have pulled Cureton’s shirt inside the Town penalty area. Mawene received a yellow for the challenge and keeper Scott Davies was also cautioned for protesting before he was sent the wrong way.
The score remained the same despite both sides coming close towards the end of the game – Junior Brown and David Ball almost handing the Cod Army all three points.
Fleetwood started the game with only one recognized striker in the starting line-up after Jon Parkin joined fellow front man Steven Gillespie on the injury. Midfielder Damien Johnson is moving closer to recovery but did not join the traveling party to the south-west. On loan central defender Rob Edwards, who picked up a hamstring injury last weekend has now returned to Barnsley.
McNulty showed a hunger to double is tally for the season after just 1 minute when he latched onto a Curtis Obeng throw. Nicholson continued the pressure on keeper Artur Krysiak but his shot was wide. Jamie McGuire then became provider but his delivery was too deep for Obeng at the far post.
Scott Davies saw his goal threatened for the first time on 10 minutes when Alan Gow won a free-kick on his approach to goal. The striker could only send the ball over the two-man wall.
The break-through came when Lee Fowler was fouled as he made a dart inside the Exeter half. Dean Howell sent the ball into a packed City area and McNulty coolly sent his header past Krysiak.
Junior Brown continued the Fleetwood pressure as his forward run was awarded a free-kick but Barry Ferguson sent high over the two-man Exeter wall.
The warning signs were present for Fleetwood as Cureton forced Davies to parry away his shot from inside the area. Exeter continued to push and a forward move by Cureton and Gow provided reward.
Davies dived after Cureton’s effort but the strike was beyond his grasp.
Another scare came moments later the busy McGuire was back in his own box to deny Gow another opportunity at goal.
Town returned to the ascendancy with Fowler forcing himself into a shooting position only to see the ball go wide of Krysiak’s left post.
Brown received treatment on, and off, the pitch following a clash of heads and returned to the field in a changed shirt.
That didn’t stop the Fleetwood advance and Obeng gave Nicholson another Town chance on goal.
The half was drawing to a close when Fleetwood’s determination paid off. Ferguson sent an inch-perfect through ball into the path of fellow former Scotland international Nicholson who only needed to select his spot to the side of Krysiak.
Neither side any changes after the break as the game developed into an open affair.
A little more than 10 minutes after the restart saw Exeter’s second equalizer. Youl Mawene was penalized as Cureton darted into the Town box near the by-line.
Davies chose to go left as John O’Flynn fired into the top right corner.
The home supporters appealed for a second spot-kick minutes later when they thought O’Flynn was brought down but the referee awarded a goal-kick.
The Grecians maintained their attacking presence when a free-kick was given on a central approach to the Fleetwood goal.
The kick bounced off the Cod Army wall but the referee penalized Ferguson for protecting his face with his hands. The second free-kick was fired by Gow over the wall and high over the bar.
Davies then pulled off a good tip over the bar from a Danny Coles inswinging cross.
Mawene needed to be on hand when Shaun Beeley lost his footing. The French centre-half muscled between two Grecian attackers to clear to safety.
The visitors then took the upper hand with Beeley making his trademark forward runs and substitute Tom Barkhuizen, on for Obeng, making a nuisance of himself.
Ferguson sent another pinpoint ball forward this time aimed at the substitute but the ball had too much pace.
The lively David Ball carved a path towards the Exeter goal but was brought down before he could fire. Ferguson sent the free-kick at the Exeter wall strong Town claims of a defensive handball were denied in contrast to the earlier event. Ball went close with a late header from a Beeley cross but the winner evaded Town.
Both sides struggled to assert a hold on possession and Town were left with the best chance to grab a late winner. Nicholson’s cross picked out Brown but the midfielder’s header went wide.
Town next see action on Saturday when Plymouth Argyle visit Highbury.
: Krysiak; Tully, Coles, Baldwin, Woodman; Sercombe, Bennett, Oakley; Gow; Cureton, O’Flynn.
Subs (not used): Evans, Doherty, Amankwaah, Nichols, Keohane, Dawson, Moore-Taylor.
Goals: Cureton (24), O’Flynn (pen 57).
: Davies; Beeley, McNulty, Mawene, Howell; Obeng (Barkhuizen 64), Nicholson, Ferguson, McGuire, Brown; Ball.
Subs (not used): Maxwell, Milligan, Fowler, Goodall, McLaughlin, Marrow.
Goals: McNulty (13), Nicholson (41)
: 3,540 (56 Cod Army)
: Mr F.Graham