IT WASN'T the "big leap" of a win manager John Coleman wanted but he was happy his Accrington Stanley side made a "small step" in the right direction.
Coleman had been anticipating that his side would pick up all three points although it was always going to be difficult against an Exeter side who aim to be up there challenging for the play-offs at the end of the season.
The pressure was on for his team to put on a good home show and the Reds did battle but were unable to apply the finishing touch - although came close with Lee McEvilly agonisingly hitting the post.
It was still a relief to get a point on the board - although the Reds have picked up six out of the last 24 and Coleman knows these draws have to be turned into wins to keep them up among the promotion challengers.
"What we said is that we wanted our season to start on Saturday," said the manager, whose side still lie just one point off a play-off place as the side's around failed to take advantage.
"We haven't kicked off with a win but it is a small step in the right direction. It is not the big leap we wanted or expected but there are a lot of positives. We were the better team and played well and were unfortunate not to win it."
If McEvilly's 15th minute effort had gone in it seemed certain it would have given the Reds the confidence they needed to go on and collect their first win in five games.
Ian Craney set him up and the winger raced into the right hand side of the box and fired goalwards from a tight angle. The ball hit the inside of the opposite post and looked destined to bounce into the back of the net as McEvilly turned to celebrate a goal.
But amazingly it rolled across the goalline and the relieved keeper Martin Rice was able to pick it up before anyone pounced to poke it over.
"The ball's hit the inside of the post and defied the laws of physics to come back out," said Coleman. "When things are not going for you, things like that happen and it is important you do not lose the game and we defended well.
"We have got to go forward from it.
"Lee was great, he showed a huge appetite for the game, was a constant threat and he is difficult to stop when he is on the ball. It is just a shame he didn't get his goal.
"He has also hit a volley that if it was a foot lower, it's in and he is a star. But there are a lot of positives - it wil just take something to happen for us.
"We have just got to keep believing in ourselves and our luck will change."
The manager stuck with the same eleven who were unlucky to lose to Coca Cola League side Oldham in the LDV Vans Trophy the previous Tuesday. Both sides started well but Exeter were forced to reshuffle when skipper Glenn Cronin fell awkwardly and had to be stretchered off with a dislocated knee cap on 14 minutes.
Immediately after, McEvilly had his head in his hands as he couldn't believe his shot had hit the woodwork and not found the back of the net.
But the Reds kept pressing and top scorer Paul Mullin was unlucky to be inches off a McEvilly cross.
There was one nervy moment on 23 minutes when Alex Jeannin's free kick sailed through the hands of the outcoming Carl Ikeme but McEvilly - who seemed to be everywhere - managed to clear the effort off the line.
Both sides had chances before the interval with Stanley's the better.
The rejuvenated Steve Flitcroft found Mullin with a good ball in but the striker was flanked by defenders and couldn't get a clear shot in as the ball bobbled around the area.
Then Mullin headed over the crossbar on 33 minutes while it did then look like City would find the breakthrough when midfielder Kwane Ampadu burst into the area. He rifled a shot goalwards but this time Ikeme got down well to save to his left just before the break.
It was going to need something special to turn the game and it looked like it had come when Ged Brannan played in a great ball from the right and found the unmarked McEvilly. But unforunately, he couldn't keep the ball down for what would have been a spectacular goal and his volley was well over the crossbar.
Coleman tried to change things around and put on transfer-listed Lutel James for Mullin and Jonathan Smith also came on as they tried to make some headway.
But, as the fog descended on a drizzly Interlink, it was City who forced a succession of corners. And from one Andy Taylor flag kick, the whole of the home crowd breathed a sigh of relief as unmarked Gary Sawyer sent a header wide to deny the visitors a late, undeserved win.
"We do just need something to go for us," said Coleman. "It was like when Andy Procter pulled the ball back for Lee McEvilly and it hit the lad's backside. When things aren't going for you, it doesn't go in. When they are, it does.
"But there was a lot more spirit about the side and we have got to keep believing in ourselves.
"We had worked a lot defensively in training the previous week and it paid dividends. Now we have got to work a little bit more on our creative side during this week and hopefully we will get something from it."
And Coleman believes top scorer Mullin - who has eight goals this season despite not scoring in five games - will find his shooting boots again soon.
"Things are just not falling for him at the moment. He has made two or three great runs into the box which I have encouraged him to do. It is nice to see he has taken them on board.
"It was the same again for Paul. When things are going for you, you knock them in. Other times, you are a yard behind them. That was summed up when Lee hit he post - it fell the other side of Paul but, on another day, it falls nicely and you tap them in."
Goalkeeper Ikeme played the last game of his month's loan from Wolves and, although one effort did go through his hands, Coleman was pleased he redeemed himself with some good saves.
"The ball did slip through Carl's hands but things like that happen in football. He was bright enough to then make a good save in the first half - the only proper one he had to make.
"And then he gathered a couple of crosses on a slippy pitch which had been whipped into the near post - that's hard to deal with as a keeper."