City bounce back
The Darlington Arena
9 August 2008
Attendance: 3,559 (604 Exeter fans)
Exeter City recovered from a, frankly, terrifying first half to earn a joyously celebrated League Two point at Darlington.
The home side bossed the first half as City struggled to cope with Darlo's clever passing, constant movement and sheer quality on the ball.
Jason Kennedy came closest to giving Darlington an early lead, rattling the bar with a fierce seventh minute shot after nimble footwork had opened up the City defence.
City too had an early effort on goal - Darlo keeper Brown pushing Ryan Harley's shot around his left post - but the home side dominated possession.
Paul Jones made two good saves from danger man Bill Clarke (we warned you about him in our match preview). But five minutes from half-time, Clarke was tripped by George Friend as he wriggled free in the City box, and Rob Purdie struck home a not very convincing straigh-down-the-middle penalty kick.
The half-time talk amongst the 600 travelling Grecians was of the step-up in class from non league football, and of possible substitutions. But Paul Tisdale stuck with his starting eleven throughout the ninety minutes, and they responded with a brilliant second half display.
City started the half brightly, and the equaliser came on the hour mark. Rob Edwards dinked a free-kick to the far post, where Danny Seaborne firmly headed home in front of the delirious travelling fans.
Although an open game, there really were no clear-cut chances after that. Darlington showed a little more of their first-half quality on the ball, but the cutting edge had gone. Equally, City played their football, but weren't able to make things happen in and around the Darlo box.
As the contest drifted towards the classic 'game of two halves' draw, the songs from the delighted Exeter faithful echoed around the near-empty stadium.
'City are back' they sang. And, with an away point in the bag, they most certainly are.