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Town couldn’t maintain their 100% start to the season as ten man Exeter City rescued a late point at The EnviroVent Stadium.
Jack Muldoon put his side ahead from the penalty spot minutes before half time after Harry Kite had been shown a second yellow card in conceding the penalty for a foul on Alex Pattison.
Despite going the majority of the half without threatening Mark Oxley’s goal, the visitors found an equaliser in the 79th minute through Josh Key’s close range finish.
Both sides had chances to win it late on, but had to settle for a share of the points in a result that moves Town up to second, two points behind early leaders Forest Green with a game in hand.
Simon Weaver selected the same squad that collected all three points from Leyton Orient on Tuesday night, with Lewis Page and Rory McArdle lining up against their former club.
Town were forced into some early defending with Exeter having the majority of the ball early on, a well timed sliding challenge from Josh Falkingham blocked Josh Key’s effort.
Weaver’s side’s first sight of goal came in the ninth minute as Jack Muldoon controlled a long Oxley pass and fed Pattison, whose effort deflected over for a corner.
Padraig Amond first showed glimpses of the quality that saw him find the net for Newport against Town last season as he glanced a header a foot wide of the post from a hopeful cross into the box.
City’s number 11 then created his side’s best chance of the half, floating a cross towards Timothee Dieng, who should have done better than heading off target on the half hour mark.
Oxley was then called into action five minutes later, getting down well to keep out Alex Hartridge’s header as the visitors began to create a consistent stream of chances.
The contest swung in Town’s favour three minutes before half time as, for the second time, Kite brought Pattison to the ground with the midfielder racing towards goal, this time conceding a penalty and being shown a second yellow card that would see his side down to ten men for the remainder of the tie.
Muldoon stepped up and beat Cameron Dawson from 12 yards to claim his first goal of the season, despite the visiting stopper guessing the right way.
Amond went close to equalising in first half stoppage time, meeting a left wing cross with his head, but again Oxley denied the hosts getting on the score sheet.
Pattison picked up where he left off after the break, pulling the strings from midfield, firstly finding Page whose low cross almost found Luke Armstrong, then releasing substitute Simon Power who was only denied by Hartridge’s last ditch tackle.
Town looked the more threatening with the man advantage, but despite Muldoon and Thomson both seeing goalbound efforts deflect away, couldn’t find a second goal that would surely have sealed all three points.
Only an ambitious long range effort from Jake Caprice posed any threat to Town’s goal in the second half, up until the 79th minute when Exeter got themselves back on level terms.
Substitute Sam Nombe broke down the right and crossed low into the box, where the ball fell to Key and despite Pattison’s best efforts to clear, the Exeter man was able to fire into the roof of the net from a few yards out.
Both sides had chances to take all three points in the final ten minutes with Thomson and Armstrong going close for Town and Owura Edwards causing problems for the visitors, but both would leave with a share of the points.
Town: Oxley, Page, Falkingham, Burrell (Fallowfield 81), Thomson, Pattison, Kerry, (Power 59) Muldoon, Hall, McArdle, Armstrong
Subs not used: Smith, Martin, Orsi, Cracknell
Goals: Muldoon 43 (p)
Exeter City: Dawson, Caprice, Ray, Jay, Amond (Nombe 65), Key, Dieng (Edwards 65), Brown, Sweeney, Kite, Hartridge,
Subs not used: Lee, Rowe, Grounds, Dodd, Seymour
Goals: Key 79
Sent off: Kite
Referee: S Stockbridge