The Minstermen took the lead early on in the second half when Jonathan Smith provided Coulson with a golden opportunity after some delicious build-up, and the striker confidently slotted past an unconvincing Atur Krysiak in the Exeter goal.
Exeter responded strongly, though, and equalised with 10 minutes remaining. Matt Oakley’s delightful pass was met thunderously by John O’Flynn, rescuing a point for the Grecians.
York manager Gary Mills opted to shake things up after his side’s last-gasp 2-2 draw with Chesterfield last week. Patrick McLaughlin was handed a start after returning from international duty while the so-far impressive Matty Blair had to settle for a place on the bench.
And McLaughlin played a major role in York’s strong start, forming the heart of some dominant possession throughout the opening 10 minutes. Exeter found a way back into the game though, and both sides were cancelling each other’s attacking forces out with the ball stuck in midfield.
That was until Jason Walker’s fizzing drive stung the fingertips of Krysiak, much to the appreciation of the travelling 190 York supporters. Minstermen goalkeeper Michael Ingham had launched the ball deep into Exeter’s half, and eventually Walker found space to fire one speculatively at goal.
It was Exeter’s turn to press moments later and some excellent work down the right wing by John O’Flynn saw winger Arron Davies glide unnoticed into the area. He was picked out marvelously but could only sky a two-yard sitter harmlessly over the bar, bringing a fairly equal first-half to a close.
After some super half-time entertainment, York began the second 45 minutes as they did the first: very much on the front foot.
Tommy Doherty’s introduction for Exeter, replacing the rather quiet Liam Sercombe after 50 minutes, couldn’t prevent the home side from falling behind.Some excellent trickery from Jonathan Smith in the centre of the park saw the midfielder find space, and his perfectly-weighted ball through the middle put Michael Coulson one-on-one. The 24 year old made no mistake in beating the Exeter ‘keeper to the ball, calmly stroking his side in front at St James’ Park.
Exeter, who had won their last four games on the bounce, were beginning to frustrate their home support as speculative long balls and strikes from range resulted in no real threat. A flurry of substitutions from both sides seemed to take the sting out of the game; it became bitty and somewhat difficult to follow.
Goalkeeper Artur Krysiak, who had made a few unforced errors in the first period, was not being tested and Exeter sensed York sitting back. The excellent Clarke Carlisle and commanding Michael Ingham both made blocks to ensure the away side entered the final 10 minutes ahead, but neither could do anything about O’Flynn’s close-range gem soon after.
Winger Matt Oakley found room to look up and cross for the unmarked striker, who used his first touch to guide the ball into the net, bringing the score to 1-1.
There was still time for Exeter to press for the winner – or so the home support wished. In fact, York looked the much likelier winner come second-half stoppage time, with Matty Blair replacing Ashley Chambers and causing havoc in the Grecians’ area.
It was a final corner-kick in the 93rd minute which could have seen York take home all three points, but somehow Krysiak clawed away Danny Parslow’s bullet header. Both sides extend their unbeaten runs in what was an engaging encounter between two promotion-hopefulls this season.
Exeter City: 01 Krysiak; 03 Woodman; 04 Bennett; 05 Baldwin (Moore-Taylor – 70′ ); 06 Coles; 16; Amankwaah; 07 Sercombe (Doherty – 48′ ); 08 Oakley; 11 Davies; 12 Cureton (Chamberlain – 61′ ); 19 O’Flynn.
York City: 24 Ingham; 02 Oyebanjo; 04 Smith; 06 Parslow; 22 Carlisle; 27 Taylor; 13 Smith (Challinor – 65′ ); 26 McLaughlin Booked (Bullock – 76′ ); 09 Walker; 10 Chambers (Blair – 75′ ); 11 Coulson.